The Voyager 2 spacecraft was launched in 1977, originally planned as Mariner 12 of the Mariner program. It is identical to its sister craft, Voyager 1. Voyager 2 followed a somewhat different trajectory during its Saturn encounter, however, bypassing a close encounter with Titan in favour of taking advantage of a gravitational slingshot to travel on to Uranus and Neptune. It became the first and so far only probe to visit those two planets.
Voyager 2 launched on August 20, 1977, from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard a Titan-Centaur rocket. The closest approach to Jupiter occurred on July 9, 1979, closest approach to Saturn occurred on August 25, 1981, closest approach to Uranus occurred on January 24, 1986 and closest approach to Neptune occurred on August 25, 1989.
As of August 24, 2003, Voyager 2 was at a distance of 10.6 billion kilometers (71 AU) and is escaping the solar system at a speed of about 3.3 AU per year. It will be approximately 40,000 years before Voyager 2 approaches another planetary system.
Voyager 2 carries with it a golden record (Voyager Golden Record) that contains pictures and sounds of Earth, along with symbolic directions for playing the record. The contents of this record were selected by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan.
See also: Voyager program for more information about the spacecraft