To boldly go where….
To boldly go where no man made object has gone before.
With thanks and apologies to Gene Rodenberry and Star Trek, for the modification of the famous line. Mankind has a new explorer leaving the solar system. A 722kg satellite launched way back in 1977 on September 5th. To put this in perspective that week according to Billboard Magazine Andy Gibb’s I just Want to be Your Everything was the top song.
The top selling car in America was the newly redesigned 1977 Chevrolet Impala.
In 1977 a new class of electronics was being introduced to consumers. With names, such as the Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor), the Apple II was introduced just a few months before Voyager was launched. The Apple II running at 1 MHz, 4 kB of RAM, an audio cassette interface for loading programs and storing data, and the Integer BASIC programming language built into the ROMs. The video controller displayed 24 lines by 40 columns of monochrome, upper-case-only text. and cost $1,298 USDwith 4 kB of RAM) and $2,638 USD for the 48kb version which was the maximum available.
So as Voyager 1 exits the solar system, it has relayed back changes recorded in the background radiation. Last December the Spacecraft had reached what scientists call the “magnetic highway,” where magnetic field lines from the sun connect with magnetic field lines from interstellar space. It is now in an area called the “heliocliff.” the edge of the heliosphere. Bill Webber, professor emeritus at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. has written that the normal radiation levels found within our solar system have dropped to less than 1% of previously detected levels, while the radiation from interstellar sources has doubled. There is some debate about when Voyager will officially leave our solar system, with estimates of a few months to a couple of years. If light was the method of communication it would take about 0.7 days or almost 17 hours for results to be received at NASA. It has travelled over 18, 090,000,000 km in its journey.
So to our first expedition to the stars, may we continue to learn about the universe we call home, although in about 7 years the final shut down of systems will commence and with in about 25 years the transmission of data will have ceased. If nothing happens to the craft, in about 40,00 years it will arrive in the vicinity of star AC+79 3888, otherwise known as Gliese 445 a class M-type Main sequence star in the constellation Camelopardalis. It can be found close to Polaris in the sky, but isn’t visible to the naked eye.
Although Gliese 445 isn’t thought to be capable of supporting life as we know it, Voyager ! as well as it’s sister Voyager 2 carry a message to any sentient beings that may discover it.