These probes had no precedent and would make history by bringing us the furthest reaches of our understanding, while introducing us to a world full of mysteries and Discovery with each step. They took the Voyager missions, made history, the two voyages Trek through our solar system and beyond unlocking secrets that had remained hidden for centuries and while theyve just brought us another one. Scientists have confirmed another one of the voyages discoveries and, while it might just change everything, weve known about space so far join us as we dig deeper into what the discovery is and the impact it might have on us and the world of science as a whole. The Voyager missions, main goal, was to gather up close data about the four outer planets, Jupiter Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, by exploring them more closely and discovering new information. The Voyager Mission would provide a wealth of knowledge about these planets and their moons magnetic fields and potential ring systems, even though the mission itself seemed extremely far fetched at the time. Most people thought that the spacecraft wouldnt even survive the launch, let alone actually make it to space, and while the lack of confidence was justified too time, our knowledge about the outer planets was minimal. At best, we had only visited Jupiter twice in Saturn once with probes. So the engineers and scientists working on the mission had to come up with innovative solutions in order to make sure they could get accurate measurements of these distant planets.
So if anything was to take things to the next level, it had to be solid. The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft contain a variety of instruments designed to help scientists understand the outer regions of our solar system. These included 11 instruments for analysis. They were spectrometers and photometers for examining atmospheric chemistry, magnometers for measuring magnetic fields and cameras for detecting aurori. Not only that, but there were also charged particle detectors to measure levels of charged particles. Radio antennas for determining the physical properties of the planets and plasma detectors for detecting solar wind powering these instruments was not easy at all because of their distance from the Sun. Solar energy was not an option, given that Voyager 1 would be traveling 778 million kilometers away and Voyager 2 needed to be functional as far as 4.5 billion kilometers away. They wouldnt have access to enough solar energy to even light up one panel, let alone power a whole space mission. The best alternative was nuclear power in the form of radioisotope thermoelectric generators, artegias containing plutonium 238. These would Decay to produce heat, which was converted to electricity, which would be enough to power the spacecraft, no matter how far it got from the Sun. Each probe weighed 722 kilograms, full of scientific instruments and Radio Systems, plus their power sources and needed a lot of power to keep everything going the right way and will not end up hurtling through space. Aimlessly. So lets just say that NASA thought of everything before they got started.
They also had to come up with the perfect path for the mission so that it could take advantage of gravity that cysts from Jupiter and Saturn to get close enough to the outer planets. All of that seemed virtually impossible from the standpoint of the time they were in in the early 1970s. The world struggled with basic space flight technology, not to mention the sophisticated navigation and guidance systems needed for a mission to the outer planets. But despite having all the cards stacked against it, the mission carried on the initial plan for the Voyager mission was to send a single Probe on a route known as The Grand Tour taking advantage of an alignment of the four outermost planets during the late 1970s. However, this proved to be too expensive, so a more economical solution was sought. Nasa eventually decided to send two identical probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 on separate trajectories. That would take advantage of this rare alignment. Voyager 1 was set to closely fly by Jupiter and Saturn, while Voyager 2 would pass these planets from a slightly further distance and then travel on to explore Uranus and Neptune. During each visit to a new planet, the probes were expected to return valuable scientific information and data, helping to further our understanding of the solar system. But until this point it was all just very hopeful planning whether the spacecraft would actually be able to get it. All done was still a question on everyones minds, but then suddenly things were actually set in motion.
The two Voyager probes were launched on two different dates. In 1977., the first probe Voyager 2 was launched from Cape Canaveral Florida on August 20th of that year it had a longer distance to travel than its counterpart Voyager 1, so it was sent out sooner to take advantage of planetary alignment conditions. Voyager 1 was launched five weeks later on September 5th, despite its shorter Journey, it still managed to overtake Voyager 2 before reaching Jupiter, but well go into detail on that in a bit. The main thing was that considering it was 1977 and the technology available to NASA was extremely limited. They were still able to prove everyone wrong and actually create a pair of spacecrafts that not just made it past launch, but they were actually performing extremely well throughout their early mission. Another moons, the voyagers, discovered an incredible amount of information about Jupiter and its surrounding moons. During their 15 month mission, when Voyager 1 arrived at Jupiter, it made a surprising discovery. The moon IO appeared to be geologically active, which everyone up until that point had thought actually happened on Earth. A geologically active moon is one that has tectonic activity and volcanic eruptions, which are both processes that shape the land on iO. These processes occur due to heat generated through gravitational interactions with Jupiter, and that makes it an incredibly unique place in the solar system, as it is only a third of the size of Earth, yet produces twice as much energy.
Even more unexpectedly, it was found that ios volcanic activity generated twice as much energy as Earth does making it the most geologically active place in the solar system. Voyager 1 also discovered that Jupiters magnetosphere, which is a bubble of charged particles and magnetic fields around the planet, was much larger than it was previously thought, extending all the way to Saturns orbit. It also found evidence of hydrogen helium water, methane, ammonia and rock in the atmosphere. The voyagers also discovered a thin ring surrounding the planet made up of dark Rocky grains, which may have originated from an ancient Moon. Voyager 1s closest approach allowed it to capture an image of this narrow ring for the first time with that further observations of Jupiters moons revealed that Ganymede, the largest satellite in the solar system, had a very thin atmosphere too, something that no one really knew before, because When the satellite was in space, no one else was there to capture what was going on around it from the very beginning. It was obvious that voyages had discovered a lot more than we previously knew about Jupiter and its surrounding moons, making it one of the most successful space missions ever, but that was just the beginning. The spacecrafts then made their way to Saturn. The first flyby of the planet was made by Voyager 1 and it revealed some amazing discoveries, as the spacecraft encountered, Titan Saturns largest moon scientists noticed that the diameter of its solid Center was smaller than that of Jupiters Ganymede.
Something that no one could have ever thought about before scientists also found that Titan had an axial tilt and experienced distinct Seasons as gases migrated from each hemisphere so kind of like the way Earth Works. Voyager also took pictures of Saturns intricate Rings, showing thin bands and spokes that had been created by small moons called Shepherd moons named Prometheus and Pandora. Not only that, but the spacecraft also discovered a new moon in the yank gap, an area between two of Saturns rings. This moon named pan was a tiny Speck in the images taken by Voyager 2. So, if it werent for the Voyager, we would have never known it was even there. The Voyager teens exploration of Saturn was a significant milestone for the mission revealing incredible findings about our nearest Celestial neighbor, but it also made scientists realize that even the planets we know a lot about could be studied further, because chances are things arent how they seem on Them from afar, so while the voyagers did bring us basically a plethora of information with their flybys as they made their way to Winter cellular space, it was time to study both of the planets further thats, exactly what they did and well with it. Theyve been able to bring more information to light earlier. In February 2023, a team of astronomers revealed the discovery of 12 new moons orbiting around Jupiter. With this Edition, the number of confirmed moons surrounding Jupiter has now reached an unbelievable 92.
with that it now holds the record for having more satellites than any other planet in our solar system. Saturn was previously found to have 83 moons and is currently placed as a close second to Jupiter. With regard to the number of satellites it has in its orbit, the Dozen new moons founder on Jupiter were observed by researchers, with the help of telescopes located in Chile and Hawaii during 2021 2022, but confirmed in 2023 after the data was thoroughly studied. The orbits of these satellites were then confirmed through follow up observations made by the scientists. After their initial discovery, these moons, which are between one to three kilometers in size, were confirmed through further observations. They are irregular satellites that travel around Jupiter in a backward direction, also known as retrograde, in addition to that, some of these moons have orbital periods that last for years, whereas others take only a few months to orbit the planet before repeating their cycle. Again, these new discoveries confirm the conclusions of the Voyager Mission from 1979, which suggested that Jupiter had many moons now astronomers have even more evidence that Jupiter is surrounded by an extraordinary number of satellites in the upcoming months. Multiple space agencies have exciting missions planned to explore. Jupiter and its moons, the European Space Agency, is set to launch a spacecraft in April 2023 to study the planet and its icy moons in Greater detail. Likewise, NASA is preparing to send its Europa Clipper Mission next year in order to investigate the surface of one of Jupiters moons Europa.
This mysterious moon is believed to contain a vast ocean beneath its icy crust, making it the perfect Target for exploration.