Voyager 2
Voyager 2

Voyager 2

Courtesy of NASA

Voyager 2 launched in 1977 on a flyby mission to gather data about four planets in the outer solar system. It took 12 years to reach the last planet, Neptune, traveling at an average speed of 19 km/second (42,000 mph). Following Voyager’s success in observing Neptune for 4 months in 1989, Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, began an extended mission to explore the boundaries of our solar system and travel into interstellar space.

August 20, 1977

August 25, 1989

End of Mission
Still operating as of 2017, expected to operate until 2025

Conduct close-up studies of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Voyager 2 passed about 4950 km (3000 miles) above Neptune’s north pole. Five hours later, it passed 40,000 km (25,000 miles) from Neptune’s largest moon, Triton. It captured images of several geyser-like volcanic vents. These vents were spewing nitrogen gas containing extremely fine, dark particles. The particles were carried to altitudes of 2 to 8 km and then blown downwind before being deposited on Triton’s surface. Most of the winds on Neptune blow in a westward direction, which is opposite (retrograde) to the rotation of the planet.