Fast forward to
In celebration of this anniversary, scientists from both missions reflected on Voyager 2's Neptune encounter.
The Encounter -- Coming in Close
The Voyager team remembers how extraordinary it was to visit Neptune.
"We had been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time with the right team, and this was the first and only opportunity we would have for a long time for an up-close and personal view with Neptune and the outer parts of our solar system," said
New Horizons Principal Investigator
"As much as anything, just seeing this world unfold from the point of light it had been to become a real place was just enthralling," Stern said.
The Exhilaration at JPL
JPL, which manages the Voyager mission, was an exciting place to be in 1989.
Stern describes JPL as the place where "all the action was" in August of 1989.
"I do remember
As the spacecraft delivered images of Neptune, scientists uncovered some unexpected findings.
"The Voyager 2 flyby of Neptune was just another example of the surprises we had time after time as Voyager was flying by each of the outer planets," said
The "Great Dark Spot" on Neptune was the first big surprise.
"This dark spot is very similar to the Great Red Spot on our solar system's largest planet, Jupiter, which is a very large storm," Stone said. Because Neptune is six times farther from the sun than Jupiter, it receives a fraction of the energy that Jupiter does -- this dark spot was a complete surprise.
Voyager scientists were also amazed to see that Triton, a moon of Neptune, has active geysers.
"The Triton flyby was my favorite moment partly because it was a bookend. The journey really started with the discovery of volcanoes on Io with Voyager 1, 10 years earlier -- the first bookend. We finished the planetary part of the mission with another bookend, the flyby of Triton, where we discovered a much colder, smaller world that was also geologically active," Stone said.
In the spirit of the Voyager 2 missions to Uranus and Neptune, New Horizons is going where no spacecraft has gone before.
"New Horizons will certainly provide us with new and exciting discoveries, just as Voyager did with its planetary flybys," said
Stern summed up the two missions nicely: "The Voyager and New Horizons missions have very important similarities. They are both historic missions of exploration to the very frontier of human knowledge: Voyager with the middle zone of the solar system and the giant planets, and New Horizons with the Kuiper Belt and Pluto. Both excite the public about not only the field of planetary science, but also about exploration and some of the things that our nation and
Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, were launched 16 days apart in 1977. The Voyager spacecraft were built and continue to be operated by JPL. Caltech manages JPL for
For more information about Voyager, visit:
New Horizons was designed, built and is operated by the
For more information about New Horizons, visit:
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