Rae PaolettaMar 03, 2022

The best space pictures from the Voyager 1 and 2 missions

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.

Jupiter and Callisto from Voyager 1
Jupiter and Callisto from Voyager 1 This color composite of Jupiter was the last image captured by Voyager 1 before its wide-angle camera could no longer fit the whole planet within its 3.2-degree field of view.Image: NASA / JPL / Ian Regan
Voyager 2 view of Europa
Voyager 2 view of Europa Neither of the two Voyagers passed particularly close to Europa. This is one of the best views of Europa obtained during the Voyager mission, reprocessed in 2010 by Ted Stryk.Image: NASA / JPL / Ted Stryk
Ganymede in color from Voyager 1
Voyager 1's view of Jupiter's moon Ganymede (in color) Voyager 1 made its closest approach to Ganymede on March 5, 1979.Image: NASA / JPL / Ted Stryk

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Saturn as seen by Voyager 1
Saturn as seen by Voyager 1 The last picture from Voyager 1’s approach to Saturn in which the entire planet and ring system can be seen in a single frame.Image: NASA/JPL/Björn Jónsson
Voyager 2's best view of Enceladus
Voyager 2's best view of Enceladus This was the Voyager mission's best view of Enceladus, captured by Voyager 2 on August 26, 1981 from a distance of about 109,000 kilometers. The Voyager images revealed Enceladus to have a tectonized surface that was, in places, wiped clean of craters.Image: NASA / JPL / Ted Stryk
Uranus from Voyager 2
Uranus from Voyager 2 Voyager 2 saw Uranus as a near-featureless grey-green orb when it flew past the planet in 1986.Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Titania, night-side enhanced
Titania, night-side enhanced Extensive processing of the Voyager images of Titania has revealed some features dimly visible on the moon's night side, lit by Uranus-shine.Image: NASA / JPL / Ted Stryk
Neptune Only Voyager 2 has visited Neptune in 1989. This Voyager portrait is newly reprocessed to show the planet in correct color.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Björn Jónsson
Voyager 2 departing view of Neptune and Triton
Voyager 2 departing view of Neptune and Triton Voyager 2 captured this view of Neptune and Triton as it departed the Neptune system. This image was taken around 735 UT on August 31, 1989.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ISS / Justin Cowart
Neptune's moon Triton
Neptune's moon Triton Voyager 2 acquired the images for this high-resolution mosaic of Triton on 25 August 1989. Visible in the south are dark splotches formed by nitrogen geysers that could be linked to a subsurface ocean.Image: NASA / JPL / Ted Stryk
The Pale Blue Dot from Voyager 1
The Pale Blue Dot from Voyager 1 This image of Earth was taken by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990 from a distance of more than 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles). Earth shows as a mere dot within a ray of light scattered inside the spacecraft's camera opticsImage: NASA / JPL

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