Launched in 1977, NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 missions provided an unprecedented glimpse into the outer solar system — a liminal space once left largely to the imagination. The spacecraft provided views of worlds we’d never seen before, and in some cases, haven’t seen much of since.
The Voyager probes were launched about two weeks apart and had different trajectories, like two tour guides at the same museum. Only Voyager 2 visited the ice giants — Uranus and Neptune — for example.
The Voyagers hold a unique position in the pantheon of space history because they’re still making it; even right now, Voyagers 1 and 2 are the only functioning spacecraft in interstellar space. Both hold a Golden Record that contains sights and sounds of Earth in case alien life were to find one of the spacecraft.
As the Voyager missions voyage on, it’s good to look back at how they captured our solar system before leaving it.