Voyager turns 45: What the iconic mission taught us and what’s next

Forty-five years ago, on Aug. 20, 1977, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a Titan III-Centaur rocket, embarking on a “grand tour” of the solar system that would include visits to the Jupiter and Saturn systems and would make it the first spacecraft to visit the ice giants Uranus and Neptune and their moons.

Voyager 2 is now 12.1 billion miles (19.5 billion kilometers) away and still sending back data on the distant and unknown heliopause, and scientists are beginning to wonder how long the iconic space probe can keep going.

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