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Let’s take a moment to look at the mesmerizing images from Voyager 1

“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff.” —Carl Sagan
  • Karen Hao
By Karen Hao

Junior Data Scientist & Contributor

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

In 1977, NASA launched two Voyager probes, equipped with golden records describing human accomplishment, on a mission to explore the farthest reaches of the solar system. Each record catalogued our music, our greetings, our art and photography.

Forty years later, both spacecrafts are still hurtling through space, exploring parts of the universe where nothing from Earth has visited before. Voyager 1 is now in interstellar space, 13 billion miles away from Earth. Voyager 2 is passing through the heliosheath, the outermost layer of the heliosphere, before it, too, reaches interstellar space.

Last week, in an amazing feat of engineering, NASA engineers turned on Voyager 1’s backup thrusters after they’d been dormant for 37 years. The thrusters will help reorient the spacecraft’s antenna back to Earth, so we can receive its signal for just a little longer.

It’s a fine moment to reflect on the incredible images Voyager 1 has sent back over its lifetime. The probe gave us the first “portrait” of our solar system, and memorably mesmerizing shots of Saturn and Jupiter.

Our crescent Earth and moon in the first picture of its kind ever captured by a spacecraft. Taken on Sept. 18, 1977, 7 million miles (12 million km) away from Earth.
Voyager 1’s closest approach to Jupiter. Taken on Feb. 5, 1979.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a massive anticyclone three and a half times the size of Earth, located in the planet’s southern hemisphere. Taken in 1979.
A full-disk image of Jupiter’s moon Io, stitched together from several frames. Taken on March 4, 1979.
A view of Io showing an active plume from Loki, the largest volcanic depression on this moon of Jupiter.
Saturn and two of its moons, Tethys (above) and Dione. Taken on Nov. 3, 1980, from 8 million miles (13 million km) away.
Saturn’s northern hemisphere. Taken on Nov. 7, 1980.
The iconic image of Earth, dubbed the “Pale Blue Dot,” a part of the first ever “portrait” of the solar system. The dot is in the middle of the reddish band farthest right. Taken on Feb. 14, 1990, 4 billion miles (6 billion km) away from Earth. From NASA’s description: “This blown-up image of the Earth was taken through three color filters—violet, blue and green—and recombined to produce the color image. The background features in the image are artifacts resulting from the magnification.”

Watch NASA’s moving compilation of images from both Voyagers below:

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