Launched in 1977 on a tour of the outer planets of the Solar System, Voyager 1 and 2 have become the longest operating and most distant spacecraft from Earth. Nearly 16 light-hours from the Sun, Voyager 2 has reached the edge of the heliosphere, the realm defined by the influence of the solar wind and the Sun’s magnetic field. Now humanity’s first ambassador to the Milky Way, Voyager 1 is over 19 light-hours away, beyond the heliosphere in interstellar space. Celebrate the Voyagers’ 40 year journey toward the stars with NASA on September 5.
Interstellar space. So cool.
I look at this achievement a number of ways. I laud the fact that this spacecraft was built over 40 years ago (as was its software) and it is out there still humming along. I’m awed at the distance it has traveled and how far out it currently is. However, I also think that 19-light hours is less “time” than it took me yesterday to get back from the Pacific coast in Mexico via bus, airplanes, and car.
In the future 19-light hours may very well seem like next door. I really hope so.
You know where I’ll be on Tuesday during lunch. Chewing on a sandwich and watching NASA TV.