Riffing off an old thread...

Analog v digital and data transmission aside, I'm wondering how images were captured in such low light at 37,000+mph. Seems like a wide open aperture and slow shutter would capture a very blurry image at that speed.

Anyone read the specs that can answer?


closed as unclear what you're asking by ACuriousMind Sep 4 '17 at 11:00

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    $\begingroup$ Which images are you referring to? $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Sep 4 '17 at 9:51
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty the question title implies to pictures taken by the Voyager in 2017. $\endgroup$ – Communisty Sep 4 '17 at 9:59
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    $\begingroup$ Neither Voyager probe has taken any pictures for a long time: more than twenty years in fact. So I am not sure what the '2017' refers to. With regards to motion blurring, you may want to consider that the objects photographed by spacecraft are usually quite a long way away. $\endgroup$ – tfb Sep 4 '17 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ Voyager spacecraft were reprogrammable, and for its final planetary pictures, it was programmed to do a) a long exposure, and b) move the camera to always be pointing at the planet, to avoid the blur that would be present. $\endgroup$ – CDCM Sep 4 '17 at 11:09

As mentioned in the comments, neither Voyager spacecraft has taken any images in a long time: the last images taken by the Voyager spacecraft were the 'family portrait' of the solar system, taken in 1990:

Image source

This is confirmed by the instrument panel of the mission status page. The probes no longer have enough electrical power available to either take new images or beam them back.

Nevertheless, your question still applies. Voyager 1 is currently travelling, as you note, at $60\,000\:\rm{km/h}$; in 1990 it was at about 40 AU from the Sun (as opposed to 140 AU now), which turns out to make only a negligible effect on its speed. That sounds pretty fast, but keep in mind that it is imaging objects that are at astronomical distances from it: even if you keep the aperture open for an entire day, so that the spacecraft moves about 1.4 million km during the exposure, that's still about a hundred times less than the Earth-Sun distance and therefore about 4000 times less than Voyager's distance from the Sun. At solar-system length scales, even to imaging precision, Voyager hardly moved during the exposure time.

(Once you go into the details, you get that the exposures were much shorter than that: the mosaic uses a range of exposure times, from 0.005 s to 15s, where the longer 15 s exposures were used for the Uranus and Neptune frames, which do show some slight blurring caused by the spacecraft motion. But that's about all it does, really.)


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