In honor of Voyager 1’s 40th anniversary in space, NASA broadcast a "happy birthday" message to the now interstellar probe. NASA gave the public an opportunity to submit and vote on a tweet to be sent to humankind’s most distant spacecraft. The winning message, “we offer friendship across the stars. You are not alone," was submitted by Oliver Jenkins and announced on September 5 via NASA Television. Beamed to Voyager 1, the greeting will travel, perhaps forever, through interstellar space. At its present velocity of 38,000 MPH, Voyager 1 will reach the nearest star system in 70,000 years. Its active status will end in 2020.
Voyager 1 was launched on September 5, 1977, sixteen days after its twin, Voyager 2. The Voyager spacecraft had a primary mission of exploring Jupiter and Saturn, the largest and second-largest planets in our solar system, as well as Saturn’s rings, and the larger moons of the two gas giants. Both Voyager spacecraft had an expected lifetime of five years, but due the success of their original missions, NASA commissioned the identical probes to continue exploring our outer solar system and beyond. When their primary mission finally concluded in 1989, Voyagers 1 & 2 had observed the four outermost planets, including 48 of their moons, ring systems, and magnetic fields.