Dr John  Cooke GM8OTI                                                      James Gentles GM4WZP

47½ years ago NASA  launched two Spacecraft - just. There was political opposition, no money, and once grand talk of a grand tour had faded to a murmur. They couldn't even decide a name - Pioneer, or with days to launch, it was renamed:

    

VOYAGER

They went to take pictures of Jupiter and Saturn, with a camera that would rival your first analogue Handicam with its Vidicon tube and mechanical tape transport to marvel at. It would be all over in 3 years, although there was an option to extend the trip to Uranus and Neptune. OK it will definitely be done by 1990, ABSOLUTELY.

Within 6 months of launch so many incidents had led to faulty science systems, over-use of precious fuel, blown fuses, deaf receivers never to be repaired, the stories are legion and frankly depressing.

But the talk isn't about that. We just mention that in passing. It's not about the amazing images returned (despite the odds) from the outer parts of our solar system. So what is it about?

John Cooke (Scientist) and James Gentles (Engineer) will start in 1990 and explain how the Engineers kept it running and the Scientists made sense of the data that means EVERY DAY Voyager 1 and 2 are still sending messages back with data that tells us more and more about the solar system and its environs,  where they are and what they feel. Voyager 1 is 193 AU (15.1 billion miles) away. The 23watt X-band transmitter's signal is so weak that only the biggest parabolic antennas can hear it. The radio signals take 22:34:00 just to travel ONE WAY, that's nearly 2 days TURN-AROUND TIME.


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INTRODUCTION TO THE SLIDES

Voyager Interstellar Mission

In 1977 NASA launched two spacecraft – just. There was political opposition, no money, and the once grand talk of a grand tour of the solar system had faded to a murmur. They couldn’t even decide on a name - Pioneer "something" or, well, with days to launch it was renamed Voyager. The spacecraft went to take pictures of Jupiter and Saturn, with a camera that would rival your first analogue Handicam with its Vidicon tube and mechanical tape transport to marvel at. It would be all over in 3 years, although there was an option to extend the trip to Uranus and Neptune; the mission would definitely be completed by 1990, absolutely.

Within 6 months of launch so many incidents had led to faulty science systems, over-use of precious fuel, blown fuses, deaf receivers never to be repaired; the stories are legion, and frankly depressing.

But the talk wasn’t about that. It wasn’t about the amazing images returned (despite the odds) from the outer parts of our solar system. So what was it about?

John Cooke (Scientist) and James Gentles (Engineer) began the story in 1990 and explained how the engineers kept it running and the scientists made sense of the data that Voyagers 1 and 2 are still sending back; data that tells us more and more about the solar system and its environs, where the spacecraft are and what they sense. Voyager 1 is 193 Astronomical Units (15.1 billion miles) away. The 23 watt X band transmitter’s signal is so weak that only the biggest parabolic antennae can hear it. The radio signals take 22hours and 34 minutes at present just to travel one way; that’s nearly 2 days turn around time to obtain a response to a spacecraft command.

This talk was not recorded and only some slides appear on this website as a summary. There are no captions as all the slides have titles and are descriptive.

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Many thanks to John and James for an amazing talk!

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