A NASA veteran retires after 50 years at the helm of the Voyager missionsthis is Edward Stone, lead scientist of the project.
Stone accepted scientific leadership of the historic mission in 1972, five years before the launch of its two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Under his direction, the Voyagers explored the four giant planets and became the first man-made objects to reach interstellar space, the region between stars that contains material generated by the death of nearby stars.
Stone was the only person to serve as a Voyager project scientist, holding his position even while serving as director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California from 1991 to 2001. JPL manages the Voyager mission for NASA . Stone retired from JPL in 2001, but continued to serve as the mission’s project scientist.
“It has been an honor and a joy to serve as Project Voyager Scientist for 50 years,” Stone said. “The spacecraft has been successful beyond expectations, and I have appreciated the opportunity to work with so many talented and dedicated people on this mission. It has been an extraordinary journey, and I am grateful to everyone who has followed Voyager and joined us on this adventure.”
Linda Spilker will succeed Stone as Project Voyager scientist as the twin probes continue to explore interstellar space. Spilker was a member of the Voyager science team during the mission’s flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. She later became a project scientist for NASA’s now-retired Cassini mission to Saturn, rejoining Voyager as deputy project scientist in 2021.
“Ed likes to say that Voyager is a discovery mission, and it certainly is,” said Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager. “From flybys of the outer planets in the 1970s and ’80s, to heliopause crossings, and current journeys through interstellar space, Voyager never ceases to amaze and surprise us. All of these milestones and successes are due to Ed’s exceptional scientific leadership and his great ability to share his enthusiasm for these discoveries with the world.”