The Voyager spacecrafts were sent out over 40 years ago to conduct closeup studies of Jupiter and Saturn, Saturn's rings, and the larger moons of the two planets, but something went wrong and they ended up leaving the solar system.

Will they ever come back?

And if they are, when?

  • 9
    $\begingroup$ Can't tell if you're joking, but they submitted their data over radio frequencies, and were never designed to come back. Nothing went wrong. $\endgroup$
    – user7073
    Feb 5, 2018 at 17:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ no joke, they could eventually return back to our solar system, but probably not for millions of years. I just want to know _if _ they are ever coming back. $\endgroup$
    – Eevee
    Feb 5, 2018 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ I thought they were going faster than the Sun's escape velocity, but I've starred this question and may research this further. $\endgroup$
    – user7073
    Feb 5, 2018 at 17:58
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ V-GER Be afraid. Be very afraid. And contact James Tiberius immediately. $\endgroup$ Feb 5, 2018 at 18:13
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Imtherealsanic No fun giving it away -- google that term and that name. (and get offa my lawn you young punks) $\endgroup$ Feb 5, 2018 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


No. They were never meant to.

You write

something went wrong and they ended up leaving the solar system.

This isn't quite right, because nothing went wrong. In fact, everything seemed to go right.

The Voyager probes were originally only intended to visit Jupiter and Saturn; even with the chance planetary alignment of the giant planets, it was thought that a spacecraft that could reach Uranus and Neptune with instruments intact would be prohibitively expensive. And so the two spacecraft were designed to just visit the inner two gas giants.

Voyager 1 was intended to visit Titan and then leave the plane of the Solar System; Voyager 2 could have done so via a modification to its orbit, had Voyager 1's maneuver failed. However, the probe successfully made it to that moon, and Voyager 2 remained in a path that would take it to Uranus. The missions had only been designed to last until this point. After that, there was no detailed plan for using the spacecraft; they would simply drift on.

However, it was realized that Voyager 2 might be able to make it to Uranus while still operating, and so NASA extended the mission. The trip to Uranus was successful, and so the mission was extended again, this time sending Voyager 2 to Neptune. Now that that has been successfully accomplished, the two probes are in the middle of the Voyager Interstellar Mission. They're taking data about the outer reaches of the Solar System (and beyond!).

The spacecraft have almost no fuel and power left, only enough to last until 2020. Most of their maneuvering happened via gravity assists; these slingshots did not use fuel, and instead used the gravity of the giant planets. The only conceivable way for the Voyagers to significantly change their trajectory now would be to precisely encounter another massive object under just the right circumstances. That will not be happening.


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