Voyager 1 Trajectory through the Solar System

  • Released Thursday, August 31st, 2017
  • Updated Wednesday, November 15th, 2023 at 12:05AM
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This visualization tracks the trajectory of the Voyager 1 spacecraft through the solar system. Launched on September 5, 1977, it was one of two spacecraft sent to visit the giant planets of the outer solar system. Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter and Saturn before being directed out of the solar system.

To fit the 40 year history of the mission into a short visualization, the pacing of time accelerates through most of the movie, starting at about 5 days per second at the beginning and speeding up to about 11 months per second after the planet flybys are past.

The termination shock and heliopause are the 'boundaries' created when the plasma between the stars interacts with the plasma flowing outward from the Sun. They are represented with simple grid models and oriented so their 'nose' is pointed in the direction (Right Ascension = 17h 24m, declination = 17 degrees south) represented by more recent measurements from other missions.


Voyager 1's 'Family Portrait' On Valentine's Day 1990, Voyager 1's camera were pointed back at the solar system to image the planets.

Check out Voyager at NASA/JPL for more information.

Opening view of Earth orbit looking outward to the rest of the solar system.

Opening view of Earth orbit looking outward to the rest of the solar system.

Voyager 1 (and 2) cross the orbit of Mars, slightly above the ecliptic plane to avoid the asteroid belt between Mars & Jupiter.

Voyager 1 (and 2) cross the orbit of Mars, slightly above the ecliptic plane to avoid the asteroid belt between Mars & Jupiter.

The camera moves out ahead of the Voyagers for a view back at the inner solar system.

The camera moves out ahead of the Voyagers for a view back at the inner solar system.

Voyager 1 just after the Jupiter flyby on March 5, 1979.

Voyager 1 just after the Jupiter flyby on March 5, 1979.

Voyager 1 just before the Saturn flyby on November 12, 1980.

Voyager 1 just before the Saturn flyby on November 12, 1980.

With a gravity-assist from the Saturn flyby, Voyager 1 is directed above the plane of the solar system and continues outward.  This is near the time of the Voyager 1 'Family Portrait'.  The orbit of Pluto is the grey orbit visible above the orbits of the other planets.

With a gravity-assist from the Saturn flyby, Voyager 1 is directed above the plane of the solar system and continues outward. This is near the time of the Voyager 1 'Family Portrait'. The orbit of Pluto is the grey orbit visible above the orbits of the other planets.

Voyager 1 crosses the termination shock of the solar wind.  For simplified and symmetric termination shock model, the timing is not accurate. In reality, this crossing occurred around December of 2004.

Voyager 1 crosses the termination shock of the solar wind. For simplified and symmetric termination shock model, the timing is not accurate. In reality, this crossing occurred around December of 2004.

Voyager 1 (and 2) beyond the heliopause near the end of 2017.

Voyager 1 (and 2) beyond the heliopause near the end of 2017.



Credits

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NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio


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