The Voyager 2 Neptune encounter

a personal history

Space program projects involve levels of complexity, coordination, information, knowledge, and sophistication that far exceed the functional levels of most projects. This article consolidates four smaller articles documenting the joint effort of three United States space agencies--National Science Foundation (NSF), National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)--to develop the equipment and the capabilities needed to establish a communications link with a United States satellite (Voyager 2) as it speeds past Neptune in mid-1989, a link that will transmit to earth information that may help scientists better understand the origin, evolution, and present state of the universe. The first article explains the science of radio astronomy and the nature of radio wave transmission; it also discusses information that scientists have acquired from Voyager 2’s travels past Jupiter and from Voyager 1’s travels past Saturn and Uranus. The second article outlines NASA’s deep space network and discusses its capabilities and components. The third article details the complex process of transmitting images from space to scientists on earth. The fourth article describes the history of the Voyager 1 and the Voyager 2 missions and the management processes used to develop and implement these operations.
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