NASA’s Voyager probes are slowly starting to shut down. Here are 18 groundbreaking photos from their 45-year mission.

The Voyager probes are groundbreaking in science, making them farther into space than any other human-made object.

NASA originally sent the twin probes on a four-year mission to Jupiter and Saturn in 1977; They exceeded all expectations, and they’re still going 45 years later — making it NASA’s longest-running mission.

Stunning images of the solar system are among the feats they broadcast before NASA shut down the cameras.

But now, they’re facing an ultimate problem: their power is running out and NASA scientists are shutting down more of the devices on board to conserve power.

As they near the end of their mission, here are 18 photos from Voyager that changed science:

The Voyager probes are designed to visit Jupiter and Saturn.

Voyager probes have stunned across the solar system, capturing unprecedented images.NASA

The Voyager mission involved two probes – Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 – launched by NASA in 1977 within a few months of each other.

The launches took advantage of the rare alignment of the planets that allowed them to supercharge their flights into space.

NASA originally built the probe to last five years, but it has outlived that lifespan several times.

On September 9, 2022, the two probes have been traveling for 45 years.

This is what Voyager 1 saw as it approached Jupiter.

This time-lapse video records Voyager 1's approach to Jupiter over a period of more than 60 Jupiter days.

Voyager 1 took the time-lapse as it approached Jupiter in 1979.NASA/JPL

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 arrived at Jupiter in 1979. They took about 50,000 pictures of the planet in total, which greatly exceeded the quality of pictures taken by scientists from Earth, according to NASA.

The images taught scientists important facts about the planet’s atmosphere, magnetic forces, and geology that would have been difficult to decipher otherwise.

The two probes discovered two new moons orbiting Jupiter: Thebe and Metis….

Jupiter and two of its moons are seen in this image taken by Voyager.

Jupiter and two of its moons, as seen by the Voyager probes.NASA/JPL

… plus a thin ring around Jupiter.

Jupiter's ring as captured by Voyager.

False-color image of Jupiter’s ring, discovered by the Voyager probe.NASA/JPL

The probe took this image while looking at the planet, which was backlit by the Sun.

Voyager 1’s biggest discovery was volcanic activity on the surface of Io, one of Jupiter’s moons.

Volcanic activity on the surface of Io, a moon of Jupiter, was captured by the Voyager probe.

An image taken by Voyager reveals volcanoes on the surface of Io.NASA/JPL

Next stop: Saturn

A false Colou image of Saturn taken by Voyager 2 shows the properties of the planet's atmosphere.

NASA used three Voyager 2 images — taken through ultraviolet, violet, and green filters — to capture this image.NASA/JPL

In 1980 and 1981, the two probes reached Saturn. The flyby gave scientists an unprecedented view of the planet’s circular structure, atmosphere, and moons.

Voyager scientists have learned the details of Saturn’s rings.

Saturn's rings appear in false colors in an image taken by the Voyager probe in 1981.

The Voyager probe took this false-color image of Saturn’s rings on August 23, 1981.NASA

Voyager has captured Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, in unprecedented detail.

Encheladus, a moon of Saturn, seen in unprecedented detail by Voyager.

Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, as seen by Voyager.NASA/JPL

This image, taken as the probe flew away, provided a unique view of the planet.

Saturn as seen by Voyager 1 when it looked back on November 16, 1980, four days after the spacecraft flew over the planet.

Voyager 1 looked at Saturn on November 16, 1980, to give this unique perspective on its rings, which are partially covered by shadow.NASA/JPL

By 1986, Voyager 2 has reached Uranus

Neptune, seen in true and false color by Voyager.

Voyager 2 captured these true-color (left) and false-color (right) images of Neptune in 1986.NASA/JPL

Voyager 1 continued straight ahead and will not encounter another planet on its journey out of the solar system.

But Voyager 2 continued its exploration of our nearest planet, passing within 50,600 miles of Uranus in January 1986.

He discovered two more rings around Uranus, revealing that the planet has 11, not at least 9.

Its images of the largest moons of Uranus also revealed 11 moons that had not been seen before.

Miranda, a moon of Uranus, seen by Voyager.

The Voyager probe’s images of Miranda, a moon of Uranus, have revealed its complex geological past.NASA/JPL

Here is a photo of Miranda, the sixth largest moon of Uranus.

Voyager 2 was the first spacecraft to observe Neptune at close range.

Neptune seen in false color by Voyager

Neptune, seen in the wrong color by Voyager 2 in 1989. Here, red or white means sunlight is passing through a methane-rich atmosphere.NASA/JPL

In 1989, 12 years after its launch, Voyager 2 passed within 3,000 miles of Neptune.

Image showing blue Neptune in full.

Image showing blue Neptune in full.

Neptune, as seen by Voyager 2 in 1989.NASA/JPL

The image shows Triton’s rough surface.

The image shows Triton's rough surface.

Triton, as seen by Voyager 2 in 1989.NASA/JPL

Capture Triton, a moon of Neptune, in unprecedented detail.

Another shows Triton’s southern hemisphere.

Image showing Triton's southern hemisphere, which appears uneven.

Neptune, as seen by Voyager 2 in 1989.NASA/JPL

Captured the rings of Neptune.

Neptune's rings, Voyager saw

Neptune rings.NASA/JPL

Here, Voyager saw the crescent shape of Neptune’s south pole as it departed.

The shape of the crescent of Neptune's south pole can be seen by Voyager as it departs.

Neptune, as seen by Voyager 2 in 1989.NASA/JPL

Voyager 2 will never take pictures again. Since it would not encounter another planet on its continuing journey, NASA turned off its cameras after the Neptune flyby to conserve power for the other instruments.

Voyager took 60 pictures of the solar system from about 4 billion miles away.

Image of the Voyager 1 solar system, made up of 60 images taken from a distance of 4 billion miles.

Voyager 1 provided an image of the solar system in 1990.NASA/JPL

As its last photograph, Voyager 1 took 60 pictures of the solar system from 4 billion miles away in 1990.

It gave us the most distant self-portrait on Earth, dubbed the “pale blue dot.”

Voyager pale blue dot

This is the Earth seen from 4 billion miles away.NASA

This will probably remain the longest-range self-portrait in human history for some time: a photo of Earth from 4 billion miles away.

After this photo, NASA turned off Voyager 1’s cameras to save energy. NASA could turn the probe’s cameras back on, but it’s not a priority for the mission.

outside the solar system

NASA's Voyager 1 in the heliopause

This artist’s concept shows the public locations of NASA’s two Voyager spacecraft. Voyager 1 (top) has sailed beyond our solar bubble into interstellar space, interstellar space.NASA/JPL-Caltech

Although the probes are no longer transmitting images, they have not stopped transmitting important information about space.

In 2012, Voyager 1 became the first man-made instrument to cross into interstellar space by bypassing the heliosphere, the boundary between our solar system and the rest of the universe.

Voyager 2 was the second to cross the boundary in 2018. It then revealed an additional boundary surrounding our solar bubble.

The probes keep sending back measurements from interstellar space, such as strange buzzing sounds likely coming from vibrations made by neighboring stars.

Sensors continue to function even after they are turned off.

Shown here are two sides of the NASA Golden Record aboard the Voyager probes.

A combined image shows the two sides of NASA’s Golden Record, which is found aboard the Voyager probes.NASA / Insider

NASA now plans to decommission more of the probes in hopes of extending their lives into the 2030s.

But even after all the instruments calm down, the probes will still drift off holding the gold record, which can provide important information about humanity if intelligent extraterrestrial life exists, and if it does exist via the probes.

This article was originally published on June 6, 2022.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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