Results From The Flyby Of The Voyager 2 Spacecraft
The Voyager 2 spacecraft was launched from Earth on August 20, 1977. As it flew by Jupiter in July 1979, it was accelerated toward Saturn which, in turn, accelerated Voyager 2 toward Uranus during the August 1981 flyby. Voyager 2 flew by Uranus on a hyperbolic orbit, passing it at a minimum distance of 66,447 mi (107,000 km) from the center of Uranus on January 24, 1986. The observations that Voyager 2 made of the Uranus system from November 4, 1985 to February 26, 1986 added immensely to our knowledge about it. Because Uranus' rotation axis was pointed less than 8° from the Sun then, and because Voyager 2 was approaching Uranus along a path that made about a 35° angle with the line from the Sun, Voyager 2 passed through Uranus' ring and satellite system much like a bullet passing through a "bull's eye target" and could not pass fairly close to any more than two of Uranus's satellites at most.
The satellites closely approached by Voyager 2 were Miranda and Ariel; the spacecraft passed by these two at distances of 16,146 mi (26,000 km) and 17,388 mi (28,000 km), respectively.
The main discoveries made by Voyager 2 during its encounter with Uranus are the following: