Voyager 2 Heads Toward Jupiter

In the 1970s advancements in space technology were tremendous. While the previous decade created the struggles to get the first man in space, planetary orbit and the moon, the 1970s was characterized by an interest in exploring farther into space. In order to try and satisfy these ambitions, the Voyager program was created. On August 8, 1977, NASA’s Voyager 2 probe launched into space. The probe, along with its identical sister probe Voyager 1, was designed to take on the task of exploring the outer workings of our solar system, including the systems of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. On its journey, which still continues today more than 33 years later, Voyager 2 encountered Kuiper belt, the heliosphere and continued on to make its way into interstellar space. Fitted with a the finest technological equipment of the time, which included advanced imaging systems and ten other scientific instruments, the Voyager probes were able to provide scientists with detailed data that they could have previously only dreamed of. Though Voyager 2 recorded a great deal of data and made many discoveries during its mission, the investigation of Jupiter and its moons were especially interesting to scientists.

Voyager 2 allowed for scientists to investigate aspects of Jupiter and its moons that it could previously only speculate about. As Voyager approached Jupiter on July 9, 1979, it would transmit a series of televised photos of Jupiter’s second largest satellite, Europa. This was only the beginning of the probe’s investigation of the Jovian system however, as it made its way to the actual planet, where it would pass by at a distance of around 400,000 miles. It was at this point that Voyager 2 continued with its invaluable investigation. It was previously discovered by Voyager 1 that Jupiter actually had a ring around the planet, but Voyager 2 was able to gather more information about the phenomenon. It was later concluded that the ring is thing and more closely related to the rings of Uranus than Saturn. A more important investigation for Voyager 2 was Jupiter’s four Galilean moons. Io, the orange moon closest to Jupiter was of particular interest. Voyager 2 was programmed to spend 10 hour investigating Io, and its volcano filled surface. As Io is the most volcanically active body in our solar system, scientists wanted to understand the properties that allow for such an existence. Voyager 2 would confirm that, unlike Earth, Io’s volcanoes vent directly from the moon’s core instead of pockets below the curst. Apart from investigation the sodium, oxygen and sulfur spewing volcanoes on Io, Voyager 2 also investigated non-Galilean moons such as Amalthea.

The impact of the Voyager 2 probe is undeniable. With the help of its sister probe, the Voyager 2 was able to gather millions of pieces of data for scientists back on Earth, as it helped to answer questions that scientists have had about our solar system for centuries. In this particular instance, a great deal of information was gathered about Jupiter and its surrounding moons, but more than 30 years after this event, Voyager 2 is still an asset in space today.

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