Montage of photos of people working on Voyager in the 1970s.

Voyager team members who began their careers in the early days of the mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

From the first detection of active volcanoes outside Earth to the first up-close images of Neptune, the 40-year Odyssey of NASA's Voyager mission is full of unforgettable memories. Voyager 1, the farthest human-made object, launched on Sept. 5, 1977, and Voyager 2, the second farthest, launched on Aug. 20, 1977. In honor of their 40th launch anniversaries, we asked scientists and engineers who have worked with the spacecraft, as well as enthusiasts inspired by the mission, to share their most meaningful Voyager moments.

Some Voyager team members began their careers in the early days of the mission. Designing science sequences for the 1986 Uranus encounter was a first job after college for Suzanne Dodd, now the Voyager project manager: "We were making history," she said. Jamie Rankin, a current graduate student at Caltech in Pasadena, California, started working with Voyager Project Scientist Ed Stone just days after Voyager 1 entered interstellar space in 2012: "Every day as a graduate student here is like living in a legacy of discovery," she wrote.

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In the late summer of 1977, NASA launched the twin Voyager spacecraft. These remote ambassadors still beam messages back to Earth 40 years later, with data from their deep space travels. Voyager 1 is about 13 billion miles from Earth in interstellar space, and Voyager 2 is not far behind.

The era of exploration for Voyager continues even now, as showcased in a video about the mission. The twin Voyagers still send signals from deep space every day and collect valuable information about their environments. Voyager 1 is in interstellar space, while Voyager 2 is expected to cross over in the next few years. "The wonderful thing about the Voyager journey is not just that it's 40 years long, but in fact, it's still discovering new things because it's going where nothing has been before," Stone said.

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Elizabeth Landau
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.


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