Countless robots, shuttles and satellites have been launched in space over the years, but how old is the oldest of all time?
The two Voyager spacecraft win the prize! Voyager 2 spacecraft that was first launched into the great unknown on August 20, 1977, and Voyager 1 soon followed on September 5th.
(You read correctly; Voyager 2 was launched first!)
Since then, the Voyagers’ cameras have provided us with beautiful and scientifically invaluable images of the wonders of our solar system, including Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s moons.
So let’s do the math.
These remarkable man-made crafts have both just hit their 12,000th day in space this summer! That’s over 33 years and 14 billion miles that they have each traveled in space. Not only are Voyager 1 and 2 the oldest, but they are now also the spacecraft farthest from Earth.
When will this thing finally poop out? Well, scientists expect that the powerful nuclear battery will last at least until 2020. Scientists hope that’s enough time to make it to the edge of the solar system. Stay tuned!
- After 12,000 Days in Space, Voyager 1 Heads for the Solar System Boundary (PopSci)
- Voyager 2 Completes 12,000 Days of Continuous Operation (NASA)