It’s Sunday, and on my blog each week I’ll be looking back at the past week, reflecting on what I would consider to be the most significant or interesting event from the past 7 days.
The Voyager-1 spacecraft has become the first manmade object to leave the Solar System.
Scientists say the probe’s instruments indicate it has moved beyond the bubble of hot gas from our Sun and is now moving in the space between the stars.
Launched in 1977, Voyager was sent initially to study the outer planets, but then just kept on going.
Today, the veteran Nasa mission is almost 19 billion km (12 billion miles) from home.
This distance is so vast that it takes 17 hours now for a radio signal sent from Voyager to reach receivers here on Earth.
Now I remember well when Voyager was launched 33 years ago (showing my age here!), and at the time it was really a very considerable event: humankind was sending a probe to the outer reaches of the Solar System and beyond! And just to put this into context at the time, colour TV had only become available in Europe a few years earlier, and most of the countries in the world still only had black and white. Home computers were very much in their early stages and something that most people had not even heard of yet!
And so a probe was launched, literally, into the unknown. And for the next 33 years it has informed and enlightened us of our solar system.
And now that it has broken free of its original home, I am reflecting today on a number of things that it brings to mind:
A comparison: of the past 33 years that i/we have spend during our lives here on Earth, and that of Voyager and it’s journey alone, with all that it has discovered and given us. This raises so many questions about life, our ambitions, achievements, mistakes and errors. What were we wishing for back then in 1977? The list of questions that this raises is almost limitless.
A contemplation: of the future, the next 33 years, and what it may bring, to both ourselves and Voyager, ageing as we are too. What indeed will the future hold for us all? Do we still have those same hopes as we did in 1977, or have they, no doubt as with Voyager, all changed as we have aged?
Here is to Voyager, and the team of engineers and Scientists that made it all possible. As someone once said… to boldly go…