Today marks the 40th anniversary of Voyager 1, NASA's space probe that was launched on September 5th, 1977. To commemorate the anniversary, there will be a public event to be held at the National Air and Space Museum in DC.

The event will bring together space expert panelists who will among other things, discuss the impact that this spacecraft had had on space exploration since its launch four decades ago.

The objective of Voyager 1

Voyager 1 was launched to give scientists and astronomers a better understanding of the outer solar system, that was at that time, still a mystery.

Currently, it is the farthest spacecraft from the earth, in addition to being the most distant man-made object. Also, it is the most distant object in the solar system whose distance is known.

The primary objective of the spacecraft was to provide flyby missions of Jupiter, Saturn and Saturn's moon, Titan. With time, the course of Voyager 1 was altered to bypass Titan and include Pluto on the itinerary.

Later on, its mission included flybys of Neptune and Uranus. It also studied the weather patterns of these far-flung planets, including their magnetic fields and unique rings. It was also the first space probe that provided detailed images of the respective planets' moons.

The builders of this extraordinary craft designed it in such a way that it could withstand the intense radiation environment that is found around planet Jupiter.

Extended mission

After the completion of its primary mission, which ended with a flyby of Saturn in November 1980, the spacecraft's velocity allowed it to leave the solar system and venture into the outer heliosphere.

Voyager 1 then crossed the heliopause on August 25th, 2012, to become the first spacecraft to enter interstellar space and begin studying interstellar medium.

Until this day, it still transmits signals to earth, as its communication system was designed to work even beyond the solar system.

The design included the famous 'Golden Records' which were basically phonograph records that portrayed the sights and sounds of planet earth. This was in case the spacecraft came into contact with aliens and other extra-terrestrial forms of life.

The Golden Record can still play 40 Years on.


The extended mission of this 40-year old spacecraft is expected to come to an end somewhere around the year 2025. This will happen when the thermoelectric generators in the spacecraft will no longer be able to generate power to Voyager 1's scientific instruments.