June 1, 2009 - Voyager Goes Green

Voyager Goes Green Twenty years ago this week, the Voyager 2 spacecraft was close enough (73 million miles) to Neptune to begin regularly monitoring activity in Neptune’s atmosphere. This observatory phase was significant because it marked the beginning of Voyager 2’s final planetary port of call after a twelve-year voyage through the outer solar system. As it approached Neptune, Voyager returned increasingly higher resolution images of Neptune’s Great Dark Spot and a smaller white feature known as Scooter, shown here from only three million miles away. Launched in 1977, Voyager visited Jupiter in 1979, Saturn in 1981, and Uranus in 1986. Because it used the gravity of one planet to accelerate it to the next, Voyager 2’s fuel economy was an impressive 30,000 miles per gallon.

Image credit: NASA / JPL


Weekly Calendar

June 1-7, 2009

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 1

Moon phase Tuesday 2

1930: Charles “Pete” Conrad born
1966: Surveyor 1 lands on Moon
1970: First glide test of M2-F3 lifting body
1998: STS-91 Discovery launched
2003: Mars Express / Beagle 2 launched

Moon phase Wednesday 3

1948: 200-inch Hale telescope dedicated
1965: Gemini IV launched; Ed White takes America’s first space walk
1966: Gemini IX launched

Moon phase Thursday 4

1971: Last X-24A lifting body flight
1974: Construction begins on space shuttle Enterprise
2000: Compton Gamma Ray Observatory reenters atmosphere

Moon phase Friday 5

1819: John Couch Adams born
1989: Voyager 2 begins regular observations of Neptune
1991: STS-40 Columbia launched
2002: STS-111 Endeavour launched

Moon phase Saturday 6

1932: Dave Scott born
1971: Soyuz 11 launched, first crew to occupy Salyut 1 space station
1983: Venera 16 launched

Moon phase Sunday 7

Trinity Sunday

Full Moon 2:12 pm
Antares 0.6° south of Moon

1992: Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.