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The Voyager and Ulysses Missions

The Voyager Mission
The Voyager Mission

After the success of the Pioneers, two missions with a new type of spacecraft headed back to the outer solar system in 1977 - Voyager 1 and 2. Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter and continued on to Saturn. Voyager 2 did the same, and then completed the "Grand Tour" by visiting Uranus and Neptune.

The Voyagers made many important discoveries. They sent back detailed pictures of Jupiter's incredible cloud system, including the Great Red Spot, a giant storm that rotates endlessly like an enormous hurricane.

The Voyagers also took pictures of Jupiter's major moons. Among those images were several showing volcanoes erupting on the moon Io. Nowhere beyond Earth had active volcanoes been seen before.

The Ulysses Spacecraft
The Ulysses Spacecraft

On February 8, 1992 the Ulysses spacecraft used Jupiter's gravity to swing "up" so it could explore the poles of our Sun. Ulysses found that Jupiter's gravity had changed, and there were fewer volcanoes erupting on Io.

These exciting discoveries by the Voyager and Ulysses spacecraft made scientists wish to study Jupiter more closely. The Galileo mission is the fulfillment of that wish.