To boldly go where no man has gone before
I expect that statement to hold true for long while. However, our mortal and technological inability to travel long distances through has not stopped us from dreaming. Those dreams were the ignition that formed the launch of the Voyager 1 was 35 years ago. It’s mission was to penetrate the unknown and deliver the planets to us. It is a mission the little marvel of engineering has performed admirably as it has enhanced our understanding of our solar system, the universe and our place within it.
Today, it was announced that Voyager 1 has left it’s home system far behind. It has escaped our solar system to explore the reality of an imagination many of us will never witness. Currently, there is a debate raging amongst scientists about the definition of its current location: is it interstellar space or a previously undefined region of space?. Regardless, the achievement for humanity is monumental- the first man-made object to go beyond our solar system.
Here is an excerpt from the official declaration from the American Geophysical Union:
“Thirty-five years after its launch, Voyager 1 appears to have travelled beyond the influence of the Sun and exited the heliosphere, according to a new study appearing online today.
The heliosphere is a region of space dominated by the Sun and its wind of energetic particles, and which is thought to be enclosed, bubble-like, in the surrounding interstellar medium of gas and dust that pervades the Milky Way galaxy. On August 25, 2012, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft measured drastic changes in radiation levels, more than 11 billion miles from the Sun. Anomalous cosmic rays, which are cosmic rays trapped in the outer heliosphere, all but vanished, dropping to less than 1 percent of previous amounts. At the same time, galactic cosmic rays – cosmic radiation from outside of the solar system – spiked to levels not seen since Voyager’s launch, with intensities as much as twice previous levels.
The findings have been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.”
Image captured by Voyager 1
More Images Captured by Voyager: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/imagesvideo/jupiter.html
Mystery Creates Wonder…
As Voyager 1 races across the cosmos to uncharted seas of space, I can’t help but revel in the wonder of what it will witness with its little camera eye. This isn’t a soulless machine. It carries the hopes, dreams, doubts, fears and the aspirations of an entire species. Voyager 1 feels awe because we are awestruck when we behold the images it transmits back to us. The discoveries have been thrilling, but they can’t last forever.
By 2020 Voyager 1 will begin shutting down operations. A decade later, Voyager 1 is expected to power down completely. What will that final image be? Will it turn around and take one long final look at home? Will it discover something that will change our view of the cosmos forever? I don’t know what it will be. However, I do know that despite whatever fate may await our individual and collective lives, there will always be a trace of humanity floating among the stars.