This visualization tracks the trajectory of the Voyager 2 spacecraft through the solar system. Launched on August 20, 1977, it was one of two spacecraft sent to visit the giant planets of the outer solar system. Like Voyager 1, Voyager 2 flew by Jupiter and Saturn, but the Voyager 2 mission was extended to fly by Uranus and Neptune before being directed out of the solar system.
To fit the 40 year history of the mission into a short visualization, the pacing of time accelerates through most of the movie, starting at about 5 days per second at the beginning and speeding up to about 11 months per second after the planet flybys are past.
The termination shock and heliopause are the 'boundaries' created when the plasma between the stars interacts with the plasma flowing outward from the Sun. They are represented with simple grid models and oriented so their 'nose' is pointed in the direction (Right Ascension = 17h 24m, declination = 17 degrees south) represented by more recent measurements from other missions.
Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio