How The Cameras On Voyager 1 Took A Portrait Of The Solar System?
This is the “pale blue dot” image, a long distance photograph of a tiny, fragile Earth all alone in the darkness of space, taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft. Taken on February 14th, 1990, it is one of the most iconic images in history. This image was taken as part of the Family portrait series of the images of the solar system. Shortly after these images were taken the cameras onboard the spacecraft were shut down for the last time.
Today the Voyager is at a distance of 23.381 billion km (or 14.528 billion mi), making it the most distant man-made object from Earth. But how did Voyager manage to take these images of the planets in our solar system? Why were the cameras turned off? And what would we be able to see if they are turned back on today?
We will talk about the cameras onboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft which took the portrait of the solar system, and what would happen if we turn them back on.
Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 is a spacecraft that has been on an incredible journey. It is now 6.4 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles) from the center of the solar system, and it has been able to look back at the home it left behind. It has flown past Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and it has been able to take some incredible images.
Voyager 1 is currently racing away toward the infinity of interstellar space, and our entire solar system looks like a string of small colored dots clustered just to the right of the constellation Orion. It is amazing to think about all that Voyager 1 has seen and accomplished on its journey! A trail of 39 grayscale shots – with zoomed-in color insets of each planet, assembled from another 21 color-filtered photos – makes up the famous solar system portrait.
Even though Voyager 1 was still approaching the solar system’s border, where the protective “bubble” of our Sun’s solar wind gives way to interstellar space, the family portrait gives you a feeling of the size of our neighborhood and that there is a great lot beyond it still to be found.
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