NASA Voyager Missions Get Breakthrough Award From Popular Mechanics
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Hurtling through space at more than 35,000 miles per hour, NASA’s Voyager 1 is on the verge of breaking the barrier between the known Solar System and Interstellar Space; and Voyager 2 is not far behind. So what better way to commemorate such an event than with a prestigious award.
Representatives from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the team behind the Voyager missions, received a Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics at a special ceremony in New York on October 4, 2012.
The Popular Mechanics award is given for projects that have dramatically advanced the disciplines of technology, space exploration and other similar fields, according to JPL’s Jia-Rui Cook.
Suzanne Dodd, Voyager’s project manager, in an acceptance speech, said: “We’re honored that our veteran Voyager spacecraft are being recognized as innovative…After showing us many firsts at Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, they are still sending us first-of-its-kind data about the exotic, far reaches of our solar system. We can’t wait to hear from the two Voyagers what it’s like in interstellar space.”
Recently celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Voyager launches, Voyager’s chief project scientist Ed Stone said the two sister spacecraft “were the first fully automated spacecraft that could fly themselves…They were the peak of technology.”
Launched on September 5, 1977, Voyager 1 is the most distant man-made object ever traveled (11 billion miles from our Sun). Voyager 2, which had actually been launched first, on August 20, 1977, is racing through the cosmos about 2 billion miles behind Voyager 1.
Both space travelers continue to beam back data as they near the edge of the heliosphere. Dodd had recently noted that mission scientists “continue to listen to Voyager 1 and 2 every day.”
The Voyager missions, which are fully maintained by JPL/Caltech, are part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington.