Voyager: Humanity’s Farthest Journey

While waiting for Endeavour’s final voyage, you can catch up, metaphorically, with the ongoing scientific odyssey of those other still-nimble Voyagers as they head towards the vastness of interstellar space.  ( Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NasaTV has Thursday’s special science presentation on the mission with a panel of the Voyager team – including Ed Stone, who’s been there since 1972, and Ann Druyan, creative director of the group, led by Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, who put together the Golden Record both Voyagers carry.

If you want to feel depressed, compare that Golden Record with our most recent attempted interstellar communication…

ANYhoo… Here’s the presentation.

And from the associated Nasa/JPL press release

“A billion years from now, when everything on Earth we’ve ever made has crumbled into dust, when the continents have changed beyond recognition and our species is unimaginably altered or extinct, the Voyager record will speak for us,” wrote Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan in an introduction to a CD version of the record.

Some people note that the chance of aliens finding the Golden Record is fantastically remote. The Voyager probes won’t come within a few light years of another star for some 40,000 years. What are the odds of making contact under such circumstances?

On the other hand, what are the odds of a race of primates evolving to sentience, developing spaceflight, and sending the sound of barking dogs into the cosmos?

Expect the unexpected, indeed.

Mentioned, and shown, by the panel was this wondrous family potrait taken by Voyager 1 in 1990, from a mere 4 billion miles away. (Image credit: Nasa)

And that pale blue dot on its own.  The Earth is just visible in the centre of the rightmost scattered light ray. (Image credit: Nasa JP)

Finally, here’s the first animation from the Voyager presentation.  Destination: Interstellar space, indeed.

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  • joeCanuck

    Pete, did you see the new theory last week or so about the unexpected speed discrepancy. A couple of guys figure it is due to a slightly greater heat loss on one side. Not that they can test the theory 😉

  • Pete Baker

    You’ll have to be more explicit than that, Joe.

    Preferably with a link to the ‘theory’.

  • joeCanuck
  • Pete Baker

    That would seem to be an engineer’s problem, rather than a theorist’s.

    And is “Pioneer” now in the title of this post, or does it still say “Voyager”? 😉

  • joeCanuck

    I guess this engineer has a problem. Old age and leaky memory.

  • Greenflag

    ‘what are the odds of a race of primates evolving to sentience’

    Had the Isthmus of Panama not closed due to tectonic plate movement some 10 million years ago then the ocean currents which were disturbed by the closure would not have changed the African climate and given rise to the savannah type conditions which gave rise to the first ‘hominids ‘ who learned to walk upright because they could no longer swing from tree to tree . And so began the knucklegrounders some 4 million years ago and though some might say there are still a few around -I’ll not comment any further 😉

    The universe and the Earth can get on fine without us -just as it did for 99.9995449% of the Earth’s existence as the third rock from Sol .

    Better make the most of it while we’re still around eh ?