This artifact is a Development Test Model (DTM) for the Voyager spacecraft that consists of facsimile and dummy parts manufactured by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was acquired by NASM in 1977 and placed on display in the Exploring the Planets gallery shortly thereafter. In 1987, JPL removed the DTM bus for use in developing the Magellan Venus spacecraft, which was similar in design, and replaced it with a facsimile.
The Voyager program was conceived in the mid-1960's as a mission to explore the outer planets using Mariner-style spacecraft. Officially, the original objective to investigate all of the outer planets in a "grand tour" was scaled back to Jupiter and Saturn exclusively due to budgetary cut-backs. However, Voyager 2 was launched on August 20, 1977 and placed on a slow flight path to Jupiter. Subsequently, Voyager 1 was launched on September 5, 1977 and arrived at Jupiter first in March 1979 and Saturn in November 1980. Because Saturn's moon, Titan, is the only other planet with a predominately nitrogen atmosphere, Voyager 1's trajectory was designed to pass within 2550 miles. This manuever caused the flight path to leave the ecliptic plane and out of the Solar System. Voyager 2 encounter Jupiter in July 1979 and Saturn in August 1981. Its slower flight path was designed to allow it to go on to Uranus in January 1986 and then to Neptune in August 1989 as the funding became available to continue the mission.
The Voyager TV cameras, ultraviolet and infrared spectrometers, and photopolarimeter are mounted on a scan platform that is stabilized about two axes of rotation. These instruments can be pointed with and accuracy of better than one-tenth of a degree. Because the spacecraft travel at speeds in excess of 35,000 mph, and the light levels at Neptune can be 900 times fainter than those on Earth, the spacecraft angular rates were programmed to extremely small to prevent smearing.
Transferred from Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CIT