The Physics Of The Universe

Voyager 1: The Farthest Traveled Spacecraft in the Universe

In the vast expanse of space, Voyager 1 has made history by traveling farther from Earth than any other human-made object. Launched on September 5, 1977, the spacecraft has now reached an astounding distance of 23.381 billion kilometers (14.528 billion miles; 156.29 AU) from Earth and 23.483 billion kilometers (14.592 billion miles; 156.97 AU) from the Sun as of July 14, 2022.

Voyager 1's journey has taken it through numerous milestones, from entering and exiting the asteroid belt to encounters with the Jovian and Saturnian systems. The spacecraft has conducted flybys of multiple moons, such as Jupiter's Amalthea, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, as well as Saturn's Titan, Tethys, Mimas, Enceladus, Rhea, and Hyperion.


In 1990, Voyager 1 captured the final images of the Voyager program, creating the iconic Solar System Family Portrait. The spacecraft overtook Pioneer 10 in 1998 as the most distant human-made object from the Sun, moving away at over 1 AU per year faster than Pioneer 10.

Voyager 1 passed the termination shock at 94 AU in 2004, entering the heliosheath, the outermost layer of the heliosphere. The spacecraft terminated plasma subsystem operations in 2007 and planetary radio astronomy experiment operations in 2008. In 2012, Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause at 121 AU, entering interstellar space. Further confirmation of the probe's location in interstellar space was provided in 2014.

In 2016, Voyager 1 terminated Ultraviolet Spectrometer operations. In an impressive feat, the spacecraft's "trajectory correction maneuver" (TCM) thrusters were tested in 2017, marking their first use since November 1980.

Voyager 1's incredible journey has expanded our understanding of the universe and pushed the limits of human ingenuity. As it continues to travel through the cosmos, the spacecraft serves as a testament to the potential of human exploration and our quest to learn more about the vast universe that surrounds us.

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