/voy"euh jeuhr/, n.one of a series of U.S. space probes that obtained scientific information while flying by the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus.
* * *Either of two unmanned U.S. interplanetary probes launched in 1977 to gather information about the Sun's outer planets.Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter in 1979 and reached Saturn in 1980. Voyager 2 traveled more slowly, flying by Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus to reach Neptune in 1989. Data and photographs from both probes revealed new details about these giant planets, their moons, and their rings. In 1998 Voyager 1 became the most distant human-made object in space (overtaking Pioneer 10). Both Voyagers were expected to remain operable through the first or second decade of the 21st century, periodically transmitting data on the heliopause.
* * *▪ United States space probesin space exploration, either of a pair of robotic U.S. interplanetary probes launched to observe and to transmit information to Earth about the giant planets of the outer solar system and the farthest reaches of the Sun's sphere of influence.Voyager 2 was launched first, on August 20, 1977; Voyager 1 followed some two weeks later, on September 5. The twin-spacecraft mission took advantage of a rare orbital positioning of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune that permitted a multiplanet tour with relatively low fuel requirements and flight time. The alignment allowed each spacecraft, following a particular trajectory, to use its fall into a planet's gravitational field to increase its velocity and alter its direction enough to fling it to its next destination. Using this gravity-assist, or slingshot, technique, Voyager 1 swung by Jupiter on March 5, 1979, and then headed for Saturn, which it reached on November 12, 1980. It then adopted a trajectory to take it out of the solar system. Voyager 2 traveled more slowly and on a longer trajectory than its partner. It sped by Jupiter on July 9, 1979, and passed Saturn on August 25, 1981. It then flew past Uranus on January 24, 1986, and Neptune on August 25, 1989, before being hurled toward interstellar space. Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have visited the latter two planets.Data and photographs collected by the Voyagers' cameras, magnetometers, and other instruments revealed previously unknown details about each of the giant planets and their moons. For example, close-up images from the spacecraft charted Jupiter's complex cloud forms, winds, and storm systems and discovered volcanic activity on its moon Io. Saturn's rings were found to have enigmatic braids, kinks, and spokes and to be accompanied by myriad “ringlets.” At Uranus Voyager 2 discovered a substantial magnetic field around the planet and 10 additional moons. Its flyby of Neptune uncovered three complete rings and six hitherto unknown moons as well as a planetary magnetic field and complex, widely distributed auroras (aurora).On February 17, 1998, Voyager 1 overtook the space probe Pioneer 10 (launched 1972) to become the most distant human-made object in space. By 2004 both Voyagers were well beyond the orbit of Pluto. They were expected to remain operable through the first or second decade of the 21st century, periodically transmitting data on the heliopause, the outer limit of the Sun's magnetic field and solar wind. Each craft carried a greeting to any form of extraterrestrial intelligence that might eventually find it. A gold-plated copper phonograph record—accompanied by a cartridge, needle, and symbolic instructions for playing it—contained images and sounds chosen to depict the diversity of life and culture on Earth.▪ aircraftin aeronautics, American experimental aircraft that in 1986 became the first airplane to fly around the world without stops or refueling. Piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, the craft took off on December 14 from Edwards Air Force Base, 60 miles (100 km) northeast of Los Angeles, and landed at that same base 9 days later after completing a course of 25,012 miles (40,251 km) around the world. The Voyager easily surpassed the previous record for unbroken, straight-line flight of 12,532 miles (20,167 km) that had been set in 1962. The Voyager made its round-the-world journey cruising at an average speed of about 116 miles per hour (186 km per hour).Designed by Burt Rutan (Rutan, Burt), the Voyager had its main wing (spanning 111 feet [33.8 m]) at the plane's rear and had a horizontal stabilizer wing at the plane's nose. The craft's extremely light but strong body was made of layered pieces of carbon-fibre tape and epoxy-saturated paper that were glued together using epoxy resin. At the start of the journey, the fuselage, wings, and other frame elements were entirely filled with a quantity of fuel that weighed four times as much as the airplane's 1,860-pound (840-kilogram) weight; all but a few gallons of fuel was used up during the flight.
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