NASA's Voyager 2 marks 36 years on its space odyssey

After studying outer planets, Voyager 2 heading toward edge of solar system

Voyager 2, one of two NASA spacecraft to travel farthest from Earth, marked 36 years in space Tuesday.

The spacecraft, which launched on Aug. 20, 1977 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., aboard a Titan-Centaur rocket, is more than 9 billion miles away from the sun, according to NASA.

Voyager 2, working in conjunction with its twin Voyager 1, were launched to explore the outer solar system. Both spacecraft have flown past Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, along with 48 of their moons and their magnetic fields.

Voyager 2 is the only NASA spacecraft to have visited and explored Uranus and Neptune.

In 1990, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 both embarked on a mission to enter interstellar space, the space between star systems in a galaxy.

NASA noted that both spacecraft still are sending scientific information about their surroundings back through the Deep Space Network, an international network of large antennas and communication facilities.

There's a scientific debate going on about where Voyager 1 is.

NASA reported late in June that Voyager 1, which was launched on Sep. 5, 1977, was nearing the edge of the solar system, flying near the edge of the heliosphere, which is akin to a bubble around the sun. The spacecraft is so close to the edge of the solar system that it is sending back more information about charged particles from outside the solar system and less from those inside it, according to the space agency.

However, a team of researchers from the University of Maryland last week reported that they believe the spacecraft has already left the solar system and entered interstellar space.

Voyager 1, according to university researchers, has begun the first exploration of our galaxy beyond the sun's influence.

Despite the debate over Voyager 1, scientists seem to consistently believe that Voyager 2 still is within the heliosphere.

This article, NASA's Voyager 2 marks 36 years on its space odyssey, was originally published at

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is

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