Voyager Mission Status
1 Feb 1999
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
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JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
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Both Voyager spacecraft are healthy and are continuing to explore the environment at the very edge of the solar system, sending back particles, waves and fields data from the far outer heliosphere, the outermost region of the Sun's influence.
Voyager 2 continues to operate normally after ground controllers regained contact with it in early November 1998. The flight team continues to use the spacecraft's alternate transmitter, which was enabled by safing software on board the craft when communications were briefly lost in November. Onboard software was modified late last year to ensure that the spacecraft would automatically attempt to reestablish radio communications with Earth if a similar problem were to occur.
A sequence to turn off Voyager 2's scan platform was also completed on schedule in November. Voyager 1's scan platform will be turned off in mid-2000. Shut-down of the scan platforms is one of several planned actions to conserve electrical power as the plutonium naturally decays inside the Voyagers' onboard radioisotope thermoelectric generators. These actions to conserve electricity will extend the Voyagers' lifetimes through 2020.
Five of Voyager 2's 11 science experiments - the cosmic ray instrument, low-energy charged particle instrument, plasma science instrument, plasma wave instrument and magnetometer - continue to gather and return data. The spacecraft, which is now 8.6 billion kilometers (5.3 billion miles) from Earth, is departing the solar system at an angle 48 degrees to the south of the ecliptic plane at a speed of 15.9 kilometers per second (35,000 miles per hour). Round-trip light time from Earth to Voyager 2 - the time it takes for a radio signal to reach the spacecraft and for confirmation to be returned to Earth - is currently about 16 hours.
Voyager 1, the most distant human-made object in space, continues to operate normally. The spacecraft, which is currently 10.9 billion kilometers (6.8 billion miles) from Earth, is departing Earth's neighborhood at 35 degrees north of the ecliptic plane at a speed of about 17.3 kilometers per second (38,752 miles per hour). Round-trip light time from Earth to Voyager 1 is about 20 hours.