The New York Times has a remarkable article about the Voyager probe team. A number of people who prepared the mission or become involved as it approached the outer planets still log hours every day!
I’m an unabashed fan of the Voyager team and the probes they made, which have overperformed mission life and expectations by orders of magnitude. Over the years, I’ve written several articles about the history of the spacecraft and the state of the mission. I had the fortune to interview Ed Stone a few years back, and get his insight, plus some follow-up interviews and emails for later articles. Sounds like he’s as crystal sharp now as he was then.
- “Postcards from the Edge” (the Economist): An interview with Ed Stone about the mission.
- “In Praise of Celestial Mechanics” (the Economist): How NASA’s remote hands on Voyager 1 and 2 upgraded its ability to communicate when far from Earth.
- “Building the plane on the way up” (Meh.com): The hope in the heart of the Voyager missions was a piece of encoding hardware that allowed transmitting vastly more data than they could when launched, but which didn’t have a corresponding decoding hardware on Earth when they launched.
- The software running on the Voyager probes is among the longest continuously running software ever written (MIT Technology Review). (With a proviso: it’s not one set of fixed code, and has been revised continuously as well, but it’s still the same hardware running code that governs a limited set of hardware.)
- “Has Voyager 1 left the solar system?” (the Economist): A quick explainer about how the sun’s magnetosphere works, and the scientific disagreement over what boundary Voyager 1 had crossed (if any). Later, the broad scientific consensus is that it left the heliosheath.
- “Where in the Solar System Has Voyager 1 Wound Up?” (Boing Boing): A deeper explanation of the sun’s various magnetic interactions, including the heliosheath, the magnetic bubble that deflects 75 percent of cosmic radiation.