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bootneck

Unmanned Space Probe VOYAGER - 1:48 Hasegawa

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Unmanned space probe VOYAGER

1:48 Hasegawa

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The Mission

The Voyager space probe program was initiated to send two unmanned space probes into deep space with the intention of conducting near-passes of the giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Their mission (referred to as the Grand Tour) was to obtain images and data of those planets and transmit the information back to Earth for analysis and was planned to last approximately 5 years. This was no mean feat as the planets were millions of miles away from Earth; with Jupiter approx 550 million miles, Saturn almost 1 billion, Uranus 2 billion and Neptune 3 billion miles distant. No existing craft, or fuel systems, had ever been invented that could travel these enormous distances however the theory, that these craft could use the gravity of those planets as slingshots to propel them into deeper space, had been identified in 1961 by the mathematician Michael Minovich. This theory became known as Gravity Assist.

The concept and design for this was developed during the 1960's and 70's with the missions eventually being approved in 1972; the scope being to make close-by passes of those four major planets and, if possible, their moon(s). Calculations had identified that all these planets would be optimally aligned in 1977 and a planned launch window was proposed for that year. This launch window was very narrow, when these planets could all be reached in one single mission, as the next window would not be for another 176 years!

The two probes were named Voyager 1 and 2, with Voyager 2 being launched August 1977 followed by Voyager 1 in September. Both Voyagers carried out identical missions for the first phases (Jupiter 1979 and Saturn 1981) however it was decided that Voyager 1 should detour to take images and readings of Saturn’s moon Titan. This caused the trajectory of Voyager 1 to be off the eliptic path and thereby making it unable to make further gravity assists. This meant that, once it had completed its fly-by, Voyager 1 would continue on into deeper space, unable to return to the original planned track. Voyager 2 continued on the planned mission, encountering Uranus in 1986 and eventually Neptune in 1989. Although the mission was to identify and record the composition and structure of the planets etc., the mission planners also arranged for the craft to carry gold disks, containing images, music and messages; just in case they encountered intelligent extraterrestrial life out in space.

The completion of the survey of Neptune marked the official end of the extremely successful Grand Tour mission, however both craft continued sending back data and so NASA approved an extended program, titled the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM), in 1991 with the objective to extend NASA’s exploration of the solar system to the limits of the heliosphere and possibly beyond; depending on how long the power will last and until communications with these craft eventually fails.

Now, 35 years after their respective launches, both Voyagers are about to reach the heliosphere. This is the distance where the outer solar system is believed to start. If the power and communications continue to be received then it is hoped the Voyagers will be able to send data which will indicate they have reached the heliopause boundary (where the solar wind meets the interstellar medium). Nobody knows exactly where this boundary is, although scientists think the craft will get there in the next few years and it is hoped that measurement data being transmitted back will provide information on where that boundary actually is, in relation to the distance from the Sun.

The Kit

This is an injection moulded plastic kit, produced as part of Hasegawa's Science World series, and it comes in a sturdy lid and base type box with an image of the Voyager on the box lid. The contents of the box consists of 3 main sprues, 2 black and 1 white plastic, which contain most of the kit body and components. Additional to these is small display base, produced in a clear blue plastic and a short rigid wire which forms the vertical stand. There is a further sprue containing a representation of the gold disk carried on the missions; plus a rather weird alien figure which, at just under 1 scale inch, makes the figure about 3ft 6in tall in 1:48 scale!

Sprue A (black) mainly constitutes components for the base of the craft comprising the Bus Housing Electronics assembly and Housing Mast assembly. The detail looks nice and crisp with no sign of flash. Any ejector pin marks appear to be on the insides of the parts and would be hidden from view when the model has been completed.

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Sprue B (black) contains the remaining components to make up the Meter Unit Mast; High and Low Field Magnetometer assemblies and also smaller electrical components.

All the parts are clearly numbered on the sprues for matching up with the build process outlined in the instruction sheet.

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Sprue C (white) contains the parts to make up the High Gain Antenna assembly including the large dish antenna and receiver elements.

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Transparant blue plastic base

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Conclusion

The kit looks to be a fairly simple construction and, with a little time spent on getting a nice paint finish, this look good in any display cabinet or on a desk. There are no decals supplied with the kit and, after checking various images on the web, I can't see if there were any markings on the actual craft.

Although this kit is a fine model in itself, the antenna gantry is constructed from a solid piece of plastic ( as are most gantries in plastic kits) and this element could be greatly enhanced by using LVM-Studios Photo-Etched magnetometer and instrument boom.

This is a timely release for the Voyager kit as the real craft are currently in the news, as they are due to leave our known solar system any time now, after 35 years of exploration in deep space.

Review sample courtesy of

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Yes,

I have the Eduard set and will be doing a review shortly

cheers


Mike

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Hi Royal, many thanks for the review, it does look a good kit of an over neglected area. Plus it brings back memories of the original launch 35 years ago already! I think one would look very nice hanging from the study ceiling!

I did hear that the dish antenna was all but 'shot' away by space debris, a testament to the ability of the craft to still transmit data.

Colin

Edited by heloman1

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