The Voyagers is a hugely popular book series of science fiction novels written by Arthur C Clarke. In this book the first volume, "VISTABILITY OF ETERNAL LANDS" was published in 1908 and has since gone on to become one of the best-selling books of all time. This book is centered on a voyage to the planet Jupiter. Among other things, the book discusses the Great Wall of China, active volcanoes, the moon, and the solar system.
A major part of the plot deals with the discovery of seven new planets that pass directly between the stars, namely, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Rhea. The discovery of these planets was a part of a larger research project that also discovered the first planets orbiting around the sun. While looking for information on the outer space environment of Jupiter, George Cook and his colleagues uncovered something interesting. It was the first hint that the outer space environment was not simply dominated by hydrogen and helium. They discovered that there were large quantities of elements other than hydrogen and helium in the Jovian atmosphere.
At first the Voyagers were not ready to announce this finding as the publicity would have dampened their spirits and seriously hurt their funding. After all, if other people discovered that the Voyagers had found something that was so exciting, there would be a lot less funding available! Cook was forced to admit that his team hadn't actually found anything yet, but they wanted to announce it. Thus, they announced the discovery of what would become the first outer space satellite, the Galileo. After this was announced NASA immediately announced that they would be funding a mission to study the rings of Jupiter and to explore the giant planets.
The Voyagers were not only interested in studying the giant planets, however. They also wanted to go to the moons of Saturn and Uranus. Unfortunately, they didn't make this connection, but it soon came to their attention that these giant planets were actually quite cold and very inhospitable to life. The Voyagers would have a difficult time trying to put a space craft on Uranus or Saturn. It would have been too cold for a spacecraft to survive.
When they got around to studying the moons of Uranus and Saturn, they discovered that they were extremely similar to our own moon. The two bodies shared many similarities, including cloud cover, low gravity, high concentration of water ice and clouds of methane gas. Thus, the Voyagers knew right away that they were looking at atmospheres of water. They were even able to launch the unmanned Voyager I into a flyby of Uranus to see if it had any liquid water ocean.
Of course, the Voyager mission did not launch until Jan. 1977, long after the Voyagers themselves were due to leave the earth. Had this happened, the probe may have returned a significant record of the ancient geological phenomena on earth. This is because the strength of the solar storms at that time was so strong that the Voyagers could be damaged. If only they had been designed to withstand strong solar winds, then perhaps they would still be in space today. Perhaps NASA would want to commission another probe to study these waters if it were to discover that they are as awesome as we think.