Will Voyager 1 or Voyager 2 be able to take a photo of their current view, using their cameras and send the photo to Earth? Do they have the power to do this?


2 Answers 2


From the Voyager FAQ

Question: Can the Voyager imaging cameras be turned back on?

Answer: It is possible for the cameras to be turned on, but it is not a priority for Voyager's Interstellar Mission. After Voyager 1 took its last image (the "Solar System Family Portrait" in 1990), the cameras were turned off to save power and memory for the instruments expected to detect the new charged particle environment of interstellar space. Mission managers removed the software from both spacecraft that controls the camera. The computers on the ground that understand the software and analyze the images do not exist anymore. The cameras and their heaters have also been exposed for years to the very cold conditions at the deep reaches of our solar system. Even if mission managers recreated the computers on the ground, reloaded the software onto the spacecraft and were able to turn the cameras back on, it is not clear that they would work.

In addition, it is very dark where the Voyagers are now. While you could still see some brighter stars and some of the planets with the cameras, you can actually see these stars and planets better with amateur telescopes on Earth.

Bottom line, it might be able to happen, but not really. The cameras are probably damaged due to exposure to the cold of deep space, and the cameras wouldn't do much good anyways.


These were the last photos Voyager 1 took, on February 14, 1990:
Pale Blue Dot
This became known as the "Pale Blue Dot" photo.

And the Solar System Family Portrait:
Voyager 1 had traveled 6 billion km at that time. After these images were taken, the camera was shut down as @Pearson says.

Voyager took 60 photos. This shows all of them:
Voyager series
On some of the photos, you can see rays of scattered light from the Sun. Because Earth is relatively close to the sun, these rays are visible in the Earth image.

High-resolution version of the mosaic

According to this list of Voyager 2 photos, Voyager 2 took its last photo of Neptune on 1989-09-29:
In 1998, the scan platform (which contains the cameras) was shut down, as not enough power was available to operate it any more. This means that even if the cameras could be powered up again, there's no way to aim them.

  • $\begingroup$ what about voyager 2 ???? $\endgroup$
    – ReNiSh AR
    Feb 21, 2014 at 5:22
  • $\begingroup$ @ReNiShAR voyager 2 being older than voyager 1, there is no way it still have power :) $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Jan 26, 2018 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ Are voyager 1's cameras still facing the general direction of the Sun even when shutdown? $\endgroup$
    – deostroll
    Sep 16, 2020 at 7:08
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder where Mars and Mercury were in the mosaic, even if not pictured in the 60 photos. $\endgroup$ 1 hour ago
  • $\begingroup$ Mercury was too close to the sun to see, Mars showed only a thin crescent of sunlight - and would have been close to Earth and Venus. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    1 hour ago

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