This picture of Neptune was produced from the last whole planet images taken through the green and orange filters on the Voyager 2 narrow angle camera. The images were taken at a range of 7,1 million kilometres from the planet, 4 days and 20 hours before closest approach. The picture shows the Great Dark Spot and its companion bright smudge; on the west limb the fast moving bright feature called Scooter and the little dark spot are visible. These clouds were seen to persist for as long as Voyager’s cameras could resolve them. North of these, a bright cloud band similar to the south polar streak may be seen. Credit: Nasa/JPL
Launched on 20 August 1977, Voyager 2 is the longest operating spacecraft, past or present. It is 15 billion kilometres away from our Sun. Launched on 5 September 1977, Voyager 1 is the most distant human-made object, at about 18 billion kilometres away from our Sun. The two Voyager spacecraft have been travelling through our solar system for 35 years and are still sending back data as they draw close to crossing into interstellar space, which is the space between stars.
Download wallpaper images of a selection of photos from the Voyager encounters with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune…
The twin Voyager spacecraft won the Mechanical Lifetime Achievement Award in the Popular Mechanics 2012 Breakthrough Awards. Get your hands on PM’s Dec ’12 issue – on sale on 19 November – to find out about the best bold ideas of 2012.