In 1977, NASA launched a crazy mission. called Travel 1, the US space agency is preparing something it knows little about, a flight with no return. Ten years after the success of the first Apollo missions, the challenge for NASA is no longer to return to Earth, but to get as much off it as possible.
Finally, in addition to this no-return journey, the probe will have another scientific mission. During its journey of several million kilometers, Voyager 1 will stop at Saturn, Jupiter, as well as the moons that surround these two gas giants.
Now that the very first images of Saturn and its annals have returned to Earth, Voyager 1 continues on its way. The probe departs, according to celestial mechanics, towards the limits of the solar system. But now, after more than 45 years of flying in the vacuum of space, the probe is starting to run into technical difficulties.
Inconsistent and strange data
The data coming back to JPL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory responsible for the mission, is inaccurate and inconsistent with each other. “A mystery” for the moment in the words of Suzanne Dodd, the head of the program. But a predictable mystery. While traveling millions of miles from Earth, Voyager 1 indeed discovers an unknown environment, filled with all kinds of radiation and where no other probe has ever ventured.
Because at this point, if communication is always good and regular between the two Voyager probes and Earth, the latter could quickly run out of energy. Operating in a closed cycle with plutonium 238, the two probes could run out of power as early as 2025, just under 50 years after starting their mission and taking off.
Voyager 1: figures that make you dizzy
According to one of NASA’s latest measurements, Voyager 1’s position is estimated at 155.69 AU. An astronomical unit, used to replace kilometers when it comes to distances less than light years. To give an order of magnitude, 1 AU is equal to the distance between the earth and the sun or 150 million kilometers (or 7 light minutes).
At such a distance from Earth, it takes more than 21 hours to complete communication between Voyager 1 and Earth from one end to the other. We still have 21 hours to wait for his response to the probe, which is now traveling at an estimated speed of 61,200 kilometers per hour. Which makes it the farthest human object from us, but also one of the fastest.