Wednesday, September 05, 2007

30 Years of Voyaging

Voyager Saturn Labeled Moons
Thirty years ago today, Voyager 1 was launched from Cape Canaveral on a journey to Jupiter and Saturn. It is now more than 14 light-hours away from Earth (nearly 10 billion miles). The early part of its journey was of course a remarkable success, and with its sister spacecraft Voyager 2 which also flew by Uranus and Neptune, it delivered much of what we know today about the outer solar system, though we later received more details on Jupiter from the Galileo orbiter and on Saturn from the still active Cassini spacecraft.

What's even more remarkable is that both Voyager spacecraft continue to "phone home" as they make their way out of the solar system and into interstellar space. Timothy Ferris has an interesting essay in today's New York Times ("The Mix Tape of the Gods"), remembering Voyager and the gold-plated "interstellar record" of human images, sounds, and music that it carried (I wrote about it last December). Although it's remembered as Carl Sagan's special project, Ferris himself produced the recording that was turned into a literal gold record that could last for billion years.

The picture of Voyager 1 at Saturn is from an Orbiter simulation.

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