40 years of exploring space
Voyager 1 and 2 achieve 40 years of operation and exploration this August and September, 2017. Despite their vast distance, they continue to communicate with NASA daily.
Voyager was born when it was observed that several planets would be aligning in a very convenient fashion in the late '70s – a once-in-several-lifetimes opportunity to visit them all in one trip. Or two, as it turns out. Because it would be difficult and expensive to carry out a trajectory that hit all targets perfectly (not to mention if something went wrong, they were sunk), NASA decided to send two identical craft, one after the other.
Voyager 2 launched on 20 August 1977, from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard a Titan-Centaur rocket. On 5 September 1977, Voyager 1 launched, also from Cape Canaveral aboard a Titan-Centaur rocket.
Everything – well, mostly everything – worked out as planned, and Voyager has been one of the most productive and surprising missions ever undertaken in space.
The Golden Record
As long as you're sending something into interstellar space, why not prepare it for the possibility of extra-terrestrial interception?
"Moonshot" doesn't adequately describe the ambition of the Golden Record project and the astronomically small odds of it ever being encountered by intelligent life, but that isn't really the point.
Pioneers 10 and 11, which preceded Voyager, both carried small metal plaques identifying their time and place of origin for the benefit of any other space farers that might find them in the distant future. With this example before them, NASA placed a more ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2, a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extra-terrestrials. The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record, a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth.
The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages, (including Sri Lanka's "Ayubowan") and printed messages from President Carter and U.N. Secretary General Waldheim.
Each record is encased in a protective aluminium jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle. Instructions, in symbolic language, explain the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record is to be played. The 115 images are encoded in analog form.
The remainder of the record is in audio, designed to be played at 16-2/3 revolutions per minute. It contains the spoken greetings, beginning with Akkadian, which was spoken in Sumer about six thousand years ago, and ending with Wu, a modern Chinese dialect.
Following the section on the sounds of Earth, there is an eclectic 90-minute selection of music, including both Eastern and Western classics and a variety of ethnic music. Once the Voyager spacecraft leave the solar system (by 1990, both will be beyond the orbit of Pluto), they will find themselves in empty space. It will be forty thousand years before they make a close approach to any other planetary system. As Carl Sagan has noted, "The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet."
The definitive work about the Voyager record is Murmurs of Earth by Executive Director Carl Sagan, Technical Director Frank Drake, Creative Director Ann Druyan, Producer Timothy Ferris, Designer Jon Lomberg, and Greetings Organizer Linda Salzman. Basically, this book is the story behind the creation of the record, and includes a full list of everything on the record. Murmurs of Earth, originally published in 1978, was reissued in 1992 by Warner News Media with a CD-ROM that replicates the Voyager record. Unfortunately, this book is now out of print, but it is worth the effort to try and find a used copy or browse through a library copy.
The record and Voyager have inspired generations with the idea that it's worth it to explore and try things just because we can, and because it's part of our makeup. The very human contents of the Golden Record were curated by Carl Sagan, among the most humanitarian of scientists. The idea that our unique presence, from our biology to our ideas of beauty and philosophy, is blasting through outer space is awe-inspiring.
The twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before. Continuing on their more-than-39-year journey since their 1977 launches, they each are much farther away from Earth and the sun than Pluto. In August 2012, Voyager 1 made the historic entry into interstellar space, the region between stars, filled with material ejected by the death of nearby stars millions of years ago. Scientists hope to learn more about this region when Voyager 2, in the "heliosheath" – the outermost layer of the heliosphere where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar medium – also reaches interstellar space. Both spacecraft are still sending scientific information about their surroundings through the Deep Space Network, or DSN.
The primary mission was the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn. After making a string of discoveries there – such as active volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io and intricacies of Saturn's rings – the mission was extended. Voyager 2 went on to explore Uranus and Neptune, and is still the only spacecraft to have visited those outer planets. The adventurers' current mission, the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM), will explore the outermost edge of the Sun's domain. And beyond.
Between them, Voyager 1 and 2 explored all the giant planets of our outer solar system, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune; 48 of their moons; and the unique system of rings and magnetic fields those planets possess.
Closest approach to Jupiter occurred on 5 March 1979 for Voyager 1; 9 July 1979 for Voyager 2.
Closest approach to Saturn occurred on 12 November 1980 for Voyager 1; 25 August 1981 for Voyager 2.
Closest approach to Uranus occurred on 24 January 1986 by Voyager 2.
Closest approach to Neptune occurred on 25 August 1989 by Voyager 2.
The Voyager spacecraft are the third and fourth human spacecraft to fly beyond all the planets in our solar system. Pioneers 10 and 11 preceded Voyager in outstripping the gravitational attraction of the Sun but on 17 February 1998, Voyager 1 passed Pioneer 10 to become the most distant human-made object in space.
As of August 2017, Voyager 1 was at a distance of 20.8 billion kilometres (139.3 AU) from the Sun. an One Astronomical Unit (AU) is the mean distance of Earth from the Sun, about 150 million kilometres.
Voyager 2 was at a distance of 17.2 billion kilometres (115 AU).
Voyager 1 is escaping the solar system at a speed of about 3.6 AU per year.
Voyager 2 is escaping the solar system at a speed of about 3.3 AU per year.
There are currently five science investigation teams participating in the Interstellar Mission. They are:
1. Magnetic field investigation
2. Low energy charged particle investigation
3. Cosmic ray investigation
4. Plasma Investigation (Voyager 2 only)
5. Plasma wave investigation
Five instruments on board the Voyagers directly support the five science investigations. The five instruments are:
1. Magnetic field instrument (MAG)
2. Low energy charged particle instrument (LECP)
3. Cosmic ray instrument (CRS)
4. Plasma instrument (PLS)
5. Plasma wave instrument (PWS)
One other instrument is collecting data but does not have official science investigation associated with it: the Ultraviolet spectrometer subsystem (UVS), Voyager 1 only.
Voyager 1 crossed the termination shock in December 2004 at about 94 AU from the Sun while Voyager 2 crossed it in August 2007 at about 84 AU. Both spacecraft are now exploring the Heliosheath. The termination shock is the boundary marking one of the outer limits of the Sun's influence, and is one boundary of the Solar System.
The heliosphere is a bubble around the sun created by the outward flow of the solar wind from the sun and the opposing inward flow of the interstellar wind. That heliosphere is the region influenced by the dynamic properties of the sun that are carried in the solar wind – such as magnetic fields, energetic particles and solar wind plasma. The heliopause marks the end of the heliosphere and the beginning of interstellar space. Voyager 1, which is traveling up away from the plane of the planets, entered interstellar space on 25 August 2012. Voyager 2, which is headed away from the sun beneath the plane of the planets, is expected to pass beyond the heliosphere and enter interstellar space in the coming years.
(Source: voyager.jpl.nasa.gov, techcrunch.com)
- Independent Trajectory for India-Israel Ties
- Saudi Arabia’s heir apparent Crown Prince bin Salman and stake to greatness
- Interpreting Germany’s New Grand Coalition Deal: A First Assessment
- India’s IT Minister in SL
- PCoI bond scam report Over 60 MPs could be exposed – SLFP
- Off duty soldier tracks hit-and-run driver Police send letter of appreciation to Army HQ
- Mohammad Shiyam murder case appeal Vass denies threatening CID Director
- 5th Indo-SL Defence Dialogue concludes in Delhi
- Further evidence on Gammanpila- Shaddock case on 26th
- Impressed with Kite Festival Minister promises new fishing harbour for VVT
- Muslim women should enter politics – Dr. Uthumalebbe
- SEUSL VC urges undergrads to focus on education
- LG elections Vote-buying could lead to removal CaFFE warns candidates
- Motorcyclists Association complains to CJ Accuses Mathugama Chief Magistrate of bias
- Singapore PM & Indonesian President due next week
- Justice Surasena appointed President of CoA L.T.B. Dehideniya elevated to SC
- Fmr NFF Member Premalal Fonseka joins MS/SLFP Maheepala Herath supports ‘Pohottuwa’
- Namal’s money laundering case postponed to 6 Feb
- Kuruwita prisoner alleged torture case Complaint to be handed over to UN
- Asia’s largest haul of cocaine destroyed President Sirisena oversees process
- Missing women & PTA detainees Sasitharan urges families to register
- SLMC rally attacked in Palamunai Hakeem blames Bathiudeen’s ACMC
- Tissa gang-rape victim dies Suspects could be tried for murder
- President’s confidants named in PRECIFAC report JVP
- Supreme Court decides President’s term is five years Presidential Election Next Year President’s term ends in December 2019
- Selection of volleyball coaches Law violators to attend Interview?
- ‘Singer Cup’ Under-19 Schools Cricket Munasinghe scores century
- Tamim steers Bangladesh
- Louis denies creating a stir at meeting
- Jasprit Bumrah wickets follow Kohli century for India
- Houston Marathon in freezing weather Hiruni shatters SL record Qualifies for Commonwealth Games 2018
- “Nidahas Trophy 2018” SLC formally invites Bangladesh
- 12th ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup Bangladesh record second win
- Sri Lanka Rugby Referees Association Jamaldeen unanimously re-elected President
- ‘Singer Cup’ Under-13 Division II Schools Cricket Mahanama, Henegama and Galahitiyawa advance
- Liverpool stun City
- Peterhansel rebounds as Sainz keeps Dakar lead
- Venus and Stephens crash out of Australian Open
- Suarez fires Barcelona nine clear
- I’m too old to be favourite - Federer
- Tri Nation series begins today Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe seek to rebuild
- 12th ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup Sri Lanka triumph by 7 wickets
- Premier League Tier A Milantha scores twin centuries Chilaw Marians register fourth win
- 700 wickets and 7000 runs Dilruwan reaches milestone in first class cricket
- Hathurusinghe savours new challenge
- Sri Lanka worst in Moody’s Asia Pacific ratings
- SL at 66th in WEF’s Manufacturing Index
- Kerawalapitiya-II gets greenlight
- Plans for multi-country trade hub in Sri lanka
- CEB picks swiss firm for vehicle charging network in Sri Lanka
- A tribute to a gentleman par excellence
- Brent crude oil rises to $70 on output cuts
- Airbus says A380 superjumbo production could end
- Asian shares gain as the dollar continues to struggle
- Slowdown in international trade and its impact on globalization
- Ford plans US$ 11 billion investment 40 electrified vehicles by 2022
- Sampath Bank engages with SMEs
- LB Finance crowned No 1 Finance and Leasing Brand in SL
- Hyundai Motor and Grab sign strategic partnership
- Mastercard holds Digital and Innovation Workshop in SL
- Zuckerberg aims to save Facebook from itself
- Is economic struggle driving North Korea to the negotiating table?
- Altair sponsors 146th AGM of Colombo Club
- From challenges to opportunities: The success of DSI Samson Group
- BMICH staff presents Carols
- The March of Folly Dr. Ranjith Atapattu, an exemplary figure
- Liberia’s development at risk
- Politicos’ image plummets to lowest ebb
- UN Agency says Losing US funds could be ‘catastrophic’ for Palestinians
- Central Bank Bond issue Opportunity to reveal true culprits lost
- ‘We don’t want to fool the Sinhalese and get our dues’
- Rohingya insurgents say 10 found in Myanmar grave ‘innocent civilians’
- Thalaivar’s New Avatar
- TNA: How better is ‘better’?
- Wi-Fi but no water: Can smart tech help a city's poor?
- No political solution for Tamil grievances in sight – Ananthy Sasitharan
- Division in SLFP main reason for UNP victory
- We don’t endorse Basil’s leadership
- Rogues in all Govts should be punished- Akila Viraj Kariyawasam
- EPRLF trying to create confusion – Thurairasasingham
- National Prosperity Turning the Tide
- Disposable coffee cups:British lawmakers call for “latte levy”
- If only we could crackdown on the root causes to effect sustainable solutions Herein lies a Nation’s progress
- Planetary combines that foreshadow misfortune for father
- Pirith chants for abundant harvest
- Venus into Capricorn
- Vastu and Domestic Animals
- Yoga for Children and Adults with Disabilities
- Notes on history: The thinkers and the doers
- Reflections on a nation of non-readers
- The Disaster Artist: The (un)making of a movie
- Our children and our cinema
- INTERPRETING ASIAN CINEMA: CHALLENGES AHEAD
- How Sanskrit journalism is slowly hogging headlines
- ice manufacturing in South Asia
- CMSC’s season finale concert
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- Trump’s ‘madman’ ACT scared N. Korea to talks
- Calls for ‘revenge’ Israeli settler killed in attack
- Banning of Colombo Journal First English Newspaper
- Sri Lankan author publishes for the world
- Broadway brought to our own shores
- Celebrating the harvest