• A little green and gold in the vast expanse of space

    Voyager 2

    Somewhere between 9 and 11 billion miles from Earth right now, give or take, the spacecrafts Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 continue their journeys through the solar system. Voyager 1 was the first spacecraft to provide detailed images of Jupiter and Saturn; Voyager 2 took things even further, giving us our first up-close looks at Uranus and Neptune. Their primary missions completed, the two probes continue to communicate with Earth; Voyager 1 recently left our solar system, and Voyager 2 is not far behind.

    Did you know that Voyager 2′s historic pass through the Neptunian system in 1989 was guided by a Baylor graduate. Lanny Miller, BS ’61, MS ’62, had spent decades as an engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, and as manager of the Voyager flight engineering office, played a pivotal role in operating the probe.

    Miller controlled Voyager 2′s thrusters from 2 billion miles away, guiding the craft not only near Neptune but also through a close fly-by of Triton, Neptune’s largest moon. The mission’s findings revealed rings around the planet, six previously unknown moons, and a surprising amount of information about Neptune’s atmosphere, length of day and more. Miller was later awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA’s second-highest, award, for his contributions, and is now retired in California.

    The Voyager 2 encounter was mankind’s first and, to date, last with either Uranus or Neptune, and no new visitations are planned at this time. With Pluto no longer officially considered a planet, the look-in on Neptune — headed by Miller — meant a United States space probe has now visited every planet.

    As Miller’s brother Ron, BBA ’55, summed up Lanny’s accomplishments, “Talk about flinging your green and gold afar!”

    Sic ’em, Lanny!

    [We learned of this note from a Bear who shared his Baylor pride. Do you know of an inspiring story, news item, or just a fun link that makes you proud of Baylor and the Baylor family? Let us know! Click here to submit your point of pride!]

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