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Introduction

The Voyager 2 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram (1,592 lb) space probe launched by NASAon August 20, 1977 to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space. Operating for 35 years and 20 days as of today (9 September 2012) (current operation time), the spacecraft receives routine commands and transmits data back to theDeep Space Network. At a distance of 99.1 AU (1.48×1010 km; 9.21×109 mi) as of September 2012,[2][3] it is one of the furthest manmade objects (along with Voyager 1,Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11) from Earth.

Voyager 2 is part of the Voyager program with its identical sister craft Voyager 1, and is in extended mission, tasked with locating and studying the boundaries of the Solar System, including the Kuiper belt, the heliosphere and interstellar space. The primary mission ended December 31, 1989 after encountering the Jovian system in 1979,Saturnian system in 1980, Uranian system in 1986, and the Neptunian system in 1989. It was the first probe to provide detailed images of the outer gas giants.