Introduction: The Voyager Story (02:19)
As the two Voyagers prepare to exit our solar system to continue their exploration of outer space, they carry a record of humanity on Earth inscribed on golden discs, a message to the universe.
The 1977 Launch of the Voyager Space Probes (02:43)
Popular interest in breakthrough technology and science fiction inspired interest in the launch of two Voyager probes to explore the planets of the solar system.
Mathematical Beginnings (06:46)
In 1961, mathematician Michael Minovitch solved the three body problem of trajectory with the 7090 punch card computer at UCLA that envisioned a slingshot technique using gravity to propel the craft further into space.
Optimal Launch Period Determined (01:34)
At NASA's JPL laboratory, spacecraft engineer Gary Flandro found the optimal positions of the planets for launch would be from 1975-1977, an opportunity not available for the next 150 years.
Project Voyager: to the Giant Planets (02:10)
The ambitious voyage of two years to Jupiter, two years to Saturn, five to Uranus and three to Neptune meant the Voyagers needed to function for 12 years. Systems engineer John Casani explains the challenge to invent new technology within their time limits.
Carl Sagan (02:33)
NASA enlisted a young member of the Voyager team, Carl Sagan, to interest the public in sending golden records with evidence of human civilizations into space and thereby ensure funding for the project.
Jupiter Flyby (05:42)
Project scientist Ed Stone remembers the first encounter with Jupiter in April 1979. Andy Ingersoll recounts Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere and especially the high radiation that could scramble the probe's electronics. Linda Hyder recorded a giant eruption on Io.
Saturn Flyby (06:33)
Models of the Voyagers can be seen at JPL in Pasadena. In 1981 the public lined up to observe Saturn's rings as scientists argued over where to point the cameras. The Voyagers parted company as Voyager 1 flew by Titan, but then was launched out into space.
Uranus Flyby (03:26)
As Voyager 2 set out alone for Uranus, scientists noticed a problem with the camera scan platform. Five years later, the camera was reprogramed to accommodate the dim light on Uranus.
Neptune Flyby (04:35)
Voyager 2 needed to make a low pass over Neptune's north pole within a narrow time limit and forecast the weather on Neptune for the camera. August 25, 1989, scientists were excited to see the first images of the blue Neptune with its clouds and complex atmosphere.
Iconic Images (01:25)
As Voyager 2 reached the outer limits of the solar system, Suzanne Dodd captured the iconic image of the crescent of Neptune and the smaller crescent of its moon Triton as the spacecraft's last image.
The Voyages Continue (06:24)
As Voyager 1 left the solar system it was asked to take an image of the solar system and the blue dot of Earth. Although the cameras are shut off, the 1970's technology continues to send messages home as Voyager leaves the solar system in 2012.
Human Message in a Bottle (02:58)
Dallas Campbell notes the symbolic mission of the Voyagers' golden disks as a record of our existence despite the relative impossibility of being intercepted. Carl Sagan knew the importance was to acknowledge the unity and accomplishments of the human species.
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