To Boldly Go
This blue dot may not seem like much, but it is something incredible. The dot is the radio signal from Voyager 1. This spacecraft is the first human-made object to leave the solar system: “To boldly go where no spacecraft has gone before,” to paraphrase Star Trek.
Amazing But True!
- Voyager 1 was launched in 1977.
- The spacecraft visited Jupiter and Saturn on its way out of the Solar System.
- Voyager 1 passed through the heliopause, where the solar wind stops in 2012.
- In August 2012, Voyager 1 entered interstellar space. This was not confirmed until September 2013.
- Voyager 1 is still within the Sun’s gravitational field. It will take about 30,000 years to pass through the Oort Cloud, where long-period comets come from.
- In 40,000 years the spacecraft will be within 1.6 light years of a star, Gliese 445.
With the links below, learn more about Voyager 1. Then answer the following questions.
- NASA, Jet Propulsion Lab, Voyager Reaches Interstellar Space: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldafT6ZMEf0
- NASA, JPL, What is the Golden Record? http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html
- What is the heliosphere?
- What did the massive eruption on the Sun do to the medium around Voyager 1? What did the scientists interpret this to mean?
- The instruments on Voyager 1 will be turned off in 2020. Why?
- What is the Golden Record?
- Why do some people say that the Golden Record is a time capsule, rather than a serious attempt to communicate with other intelligent life?