Voyager Spacecraft

Spacecraft Description

The twin Voyager spacecraft were launched in the late summer of 1977. Both spacecraft flew on a Grand Tour trajectory allowing them to visit multiple planets in quick succession. Voyager 1 visited Jupiter and Saturn, ending its prime mission after a trajectory through the Saturn system that lifted it above the Solar System's ecliptic plane. Voyager 2 visited Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, completing its prime mission with a flyby of Triton that flung it well below the Solar System's ecliptic plane. Mission encounter phases are as follows:

Voyager 1 mission timeline can be found here.

Voyager 2 mission timeline can be found here.

Imaging System

The spacecraft imaging system, known as the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) consisted of a 200 mm wide-angle lens (f/3) and a 1500 mm narrow-angle lens (f/8.5). The wide angle field of view was 3.2 square degrees; the narrow-angle 0.42 square degrees. A selenium sulfide vidcon sensor (analog slow-scan TV) sensor was attached to each lens. Each image was 800 x 800 px in size and was returned to Earth at 8-bit resolution. The vidicon system took 48 s for each image readout, although faint images could be read at 1/2, 1/3, 1/5, or 1/10 speed for better signal. The cameras were mounted on a scan platform, which allowed the cameras to be pointed independently of the spacecraft's antenna. Images were typically transmitted back to Earth immediately after imaging, although some images could be stored on spacecraft when performing a close flyby or during periods when the spacecraft was out of contact with Earth.

Each camera system was equipped with 8 filters. The narrow-angle camera was equipped with two clear filters, two green filters (530 to 640 nm; center 585 nm), and filters covering the ultraviolet (280-370 nm; center 325 nm), violet (350 to 450 nm; center 400 nm), blue (430 to 530 nm; center 480 nm), and orange (590 to 640 nm; center 615 nm). The wide-angle camera was equipped with a clear filter. It was also equipped with two methane filters focusing on different absorption bands. The Methane-JST filter focused on the 619 nm absorption band; the Methane-U filter focused on the 546 nm absorption band. Additionally, a sodium filter captured the sodium absorption band at 589 nm. The violet, blue, green, and orange filters are the same as those used in the narrow-angle camera.

Where to Find It

Voyager data is most easily searched with the PDS Rings Node OPUS3 search engine. However, the OPUS system only includes data taken during the encounter phases of the Voyager mission. Additional images were taken during the pre- and post-encounter phases (such as Earth departure; Pale Blue Dot sequence), which are not available through this portal. Unfortunately, this data does not appear to be online at this time.

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