The two Voyager spacecraft, each the size of a small car, were initially meant to explore the two largest planets in our solar system: Jupiter and Saturn. But their trajectories were later strategically arranged to take advantage of a rare alignment of the planets—not expected to occur for another 176 years—to use gravity to assist their propulsion to the far reaches of, and eventually out of, the solar system.
Voyager’s Greatest Hits goes over the basics of these two spacecraft and their travels. The first half of the book details the planning of this journey and follows the explorations of Jupiter and Saturn. Providing some history of our understanding of the inner gas giants before Voyager 1 and 2’s 1979 arrivals, the book puts into context how much was learned from these relatively brief sprints by each planet and their moons.
The second half of the book illuminates exploration of the far reaches of our solar system. Specifically, it describes what was learned by Voyager 2’s exploration of Neptune and Uranus and the signals relayed back to Earth as the two spacecraft, on different paths, entered interstellar space.
Whether we are alone in the universe remains to be seen, but the Voyagers have one potential last job: Each carries a golden record put together to describe Earth. Beyond our understanding of the space we occupy, it may be that one or both of the Voyager spacecraft will pass on information to others out there. This book provides the basics of the trips and includes web references at the end to help launch an appreciation of planetary and space science.