Launched in 1977, the Voyager 2 was propelled into "... the solar system's final frontier, a vast, turbulent expanse where the Sun's influence ends and the solar wind crashes into the thin gas between stars," said NASA
. It was May 24, 2005 and NASA was excited about the capacity it had through Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 to explore space. Project scientist Dr. Edward Stone, who helped build the Voyager crowed,
"Voyager has entered the final lap on its race to the edge of interstellar space, as it begins exploring the solar system's final frontier."
Both Voyagers 1 and 2 are identical, but each is allowing scientists to learn more about different parts of our solar system. Both also carry what NASA calls a Golden Record
on board. The record is
"... a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record-a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth."
Since its launch, Voyager 2 has been sending streams of data back to Earth for study by scientists, but on April 22, 2010, that stream of information suddenly changed. NASA
said diagnostics appear to show a problem with the flight data system, and engineers are optimistic that a software
patch will solve the glitch. Dr. Stone said
"Voyager 2's initial mission was a four-year journey to Saturn, but it is still returning data 33 years later. It has already given us remarkable views of Uranus and Neptune, planets we had never seen close-up before. We will know soon what it will take for it to continue its epic journey of discovery."
During its 33 years of service, NASA
said the Voyager 2
"... has visited more planets than any other spacecraft, swinging by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune ... With a somewhat lower speed than Voyager 1, it is about eighty percent as far from the Sun."
In an effort to fix what NASA calls a "glitch," Voyager 2 has been given instructions to transmit only information about the status of the spacecraft while scientists continue to analyze the problem. All NASA has said of the glitch is that Voyager 2 suddenly began transmitting data in a completely different format, according to Spaceflight Now, who interviewed Dr. Stone. The spacecraft is said to be completely fine, and the on-board computer also is thought to be functioning properly, aside from the glitch in the transmission of data.
However, the glitch has prompted speculation. German researcher Hartwig Hausdorf has chalked up the problem to aliens. To be specific, he posits that the Voyager 2 was hijacked by aliens. According to Bild.com
, Hausdorf said
"It seems almost as if someone had reprogrammed or hijacked the probe – thus perhaps we do not yet know the whole truth…”
Bild writer Attila Albert speculated that the Golden Record might have attracted the aliens.
NASA is not confirming that there is anything special about the transmission it received on April 22.
is a prolific writer who specializes in extraterrestrials.
Note: Article was corrected on May 15, replacing "... the outer reaches of our galaxy" with "...the outer reaches of our solar system."