Ponderance

(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

These Are the Voyage(r)s

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Voyager I was launched in 1977, before I was even a year old. Today I'm in my late twenties and Voyager I, still going strong, has left the outer reaches of our Solar System. As the ABC reports:
The US space probe Voyager One has passed another significant point in its passage through the outer reaches of the solar system. [...] The probe was launched in 1977, and is now almost 14 billion kilometres from the sun. It has travelled further through the solar system than any other space probe. Both Voyager One and Voyager Two, which were launched at the same time, should be able to operate until 2020, according to NASA estimates. The probes were launched to explore all the giant planets of the outer Solar System - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Afterwards, their missions were reconfigured to send them on an exploration of the Solar System's fringe, called the heliosphere, and thereafter into interstellar space.

A US scientist has posted the sounds of Voyager One, the probe carrying a time capsule and greetings to other life forms, that were recorded as the craft crossed a turbulent boundary on the fringes of the Solar System. The encounter was recorded by a plasma-wave instrument aboard the ancient spacecraft, which faithfully relayed the data back to Earth, where it was picked up by the antennae of NASA's Deep Space Network.
The sounds of the first human-constructed object leaving the Solar System can be found here. Sure, the sound could be anything without knowing the context, but isn't there something more than a little amazing to hear the sound of really leaving the Solar System, of being beyond the solar winds of our own little star and sailing into truly interstellar space? While science fiction has let me imagine (and, through special effects and computer generated imagery, visualise) the great expanses beyond our little sphere of orbitting planets, it's still a little breath-taking to hear sounds from 14 billion kilometres away from a probe launched before the Commodore 64 was invented, which is still functioning twenty seven years after it left our humble planet.

These truly are the voyages ...

PS For those geeky enough to recognise that 'These Are The Voyages' is also the finale of the recently canned Enterprise series, lets just say the probes themselves have amazing stories, while the episode in question was barely a story at all.

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