Saturday, June 16, 2012

Now far away

Still a tad hungover from Prometheus (see Thursday's post) I needed a reminder of some real-world space-related wonderment:
The Voyager 1 spacecraft is a 722 kilogram (1,592 lb) space probe launched by NASA in 1977, to study the outer Solar System and interstellar medium. The spacecraft receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network. At a distance of 120 astronomical units (1.8x1010 km) as of February 2012, it is the farthest man-made object from Earth. Voyager 1 is now in the heliosheath, which is the outermost layer of the heliosphere. It will most likely be the first probe to leave the Solar System.

Being a part of the Voyager program with its sister craft Voyager 2, the spacecraft is in extended mission, tasked with locating and studying the boundaries of the Solar System, including the Kuiper belt, the heliosphere and interstellar space. The primary mission ended November 20, 1980, after encountering the Jovian system in 1979 and the Saturnian system in 1980. It was the first probe to provide detailed images of the two largest planets and their moons. (Wikipedia)

So...while we happily contemplate our astrological maps, Voyagers I and II are still out there exploring the real thing.

From the New York Times of 5 September 2007 "The Mix Tape of the Gods" by Timothy Ferris
Excerpt ~~

"If all continues to go well, Voyager should pierce the heliosphere’s outer skin by around 2015. It will then depart into the void of interstellar space, where it is destined to wander among the stars forever. Mindful of this mind-boggling fact, the astronomers Carl Sagan and Frank Drake persuaded NASA to attach a gold-plated phonograph record to each of the Voyager spacecraft. Containing photographs, natural sounds of Earth and 90 minutes of music from all over our world, the record was intended to preserve something of human culture beyond what an intelligent extraterrestrial, encountering the craft at some far-distant time and place, might infer from the spacecraft itself.

The information etched into the grooves of the Voyager record is expected to last at least one billion years. That’s a long time: A billion years ago, life on Earth was first venturing forth from the seas......................................

Contemplation of Voyager’s billion-year future among the stars may make us feel small and the span of our history seem insignificant. Yet the very existence of the two spacecraft and the gold records they carry suggests that there is something in the human spirit able to confront vast sweeps of space and time that we can only dimly comprehend."


DC said...

Here's an interesting pic that Carl Sagan encouraged NASA to's a shot called "The Pale Blue Dot"...a distant picture of earth that was shot by Voyager on it's way out of our Solar System....just thought I'd share.

Wisewebwoman said...

And your quote reminds me of La Bette herself.

Twilight said...

DC ~~~ Oh yes! thanks for reminding me of that.

Carl Sagan wrote
“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Gotta love his way with words - one of the best ever in my opinion.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ Doesn't it though!?
And of another great movie!

R J Adams said...

Yet again you're the inspiration for a piece in Sparrow Chat's sidebar. Thirty-four years after launch, Voyager I is now approaching the very edge of interstellar space. How Carl Sagan would have loved to experience this moment.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ That's nice RJ - thanks! Oh yes, he'd be thrilled to bits - "over the Moon" in fact!

James Higham said...

For this line alone:

Still a tad hungover from Prometheus

... let alone what came after - an excellent post.

Twilight said...

James Higham ~ Thank you kindly sir!

Will be around your neck of the cyber woods later - have been giving myself a break. :-)

mike said...

There may not be many more Voyager-type explorations.

"Nuclear power: Desperately seeking plutonium

NASA has 35 kilograms of plutonium-238 to power its deep-space missions — but that will not get it very far."

Twilight said...

mike ~ Maybe someone, somewhere, someday will discover a better way to travel - space and time-wise. ;-)

Thanks for this extra information though.