Get ready to brainstorm some ideas off of this one, sci-fi people! This past week proved another instance where the genre once again nears sci-fact. I remember reading about Voyager 1 in Astronomy class back in college, and now it's about to make me go "wow" all over again by doing something never done before!
Voyager 1 was built with Voyager 2 in 1977 so we could observe our Jovian planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune when they aligned that year. So, Voyager 1 did its job when it flew by then-9th-planet, Pluto in 88. Needless to say, NASA was quite pleased with the successful mission, and they could all call it a day, right? Ahem, not exactly.
Just because the probe's mission was done didn't mean it would/could stop. And since then, Voyager 1 has sailed across the system with very minor bumps beyond some systems shutting down. So, on June 14, it was announced that the spacecraft had reached the border of our solar system, and will be in interstellar space by the end of the year. That means Voyager will be beyond
Now, think about it, everyone. The solar system. SOLAR SYSTEM! Lets put in some figures so we can get an idea. Voyager 1 is moving at around 17 kps. That's about 10.5 miles per second, which would equal to. . . hmm, math, math, math. . . 37,800 mph?! This thing is moving! But Voyager 1 was sent out almost 35 years ago. Why would it take something moving so fast to reach the end of our solar system? Well, it's over 11 BILLION mls/ 17.7 BILION kms away. Fun fact, eh?
Wanna know something else crazy? Voyager 1 is still sending a signal back to Earth! Granted, it takes 16 hours for it to reach us, but that's crazy! And as far as NASA can tell, it will keep on sending a signal until its lifespan depletes in another 8 years in 2020.
As far as Voyager 2 is concerned, well, it's doing pretty darn good too. According to NASA, it's currently 9.1 billion miles away from the sun, and is still sending back data as well. Both crafts are part of the Voyager Interstellar Mission, which is an extension of the original mission. Now the probes are being used to explore the solar system beyond the neighborhood of our local planets and beyond. Ah, science. Isn't it great when the awesome accidents happen?
Get ready to get some insightful info and ideas from this one sci-fi readers and writers. Be sure to check out the article from Digital Journal for more info. You can also look at the Voyager Mission in its entirety on NASA's site.