Day 232 Mile 232: Voyaging Around the Pale Blue Dot. On Sat, 20 Aug 1977 Voyager 2 launched start of the Voyager mission. The Voyager probes are still running, out there in space, and hold the record for the fastest and furthest away objects ever made.
The program employs two robotic probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, to study the outer Solar System. They were launched in 1977 to take advantage of a favorable alignment of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, and are now exploring the outer boundary of the heliosphere in interstellar space. Although their original mission was to study only the planetary systems of Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 2 continued on to Uranus and Neptune, and both Voyagers are now tasked with exploring interstellar space. Their mission has been extended three times, and both probes continue to collect and relay useful scientific data. Neither Uranus nor Neptune has been visited by any probe (hehe) other than Voyager 2.
On August 25, 2012, data from Voyager 1 indicated that it had become the first human-made object to enter interstellar space, traveling further than anyone, or anything, in history. As of 2013, Voyager 1 was moving with a velocity of 17 kilometers per second (11 mi/s) relative to the Sun.
Data and photographs collected by the Voyagers’ cameras, magnetometers, and other instruments revealed previously unknown details about each of the giant planets and their moons. Close-up images from the spacecraft charted Jupiter’s complex cloud forms, winds, and storm systems and discovered volcanic activity on its moon Io. Saturn’s rings were found to have enigmatic braids, kinks, and spokes and to be accompanied by myriad ringlets. At Uranus Voyager 2 discovered a substantial magnetic field around the planet and 10 additional moons. Its flyby of Neptune uncovered three complete rings and six hitherto unknown moons as well as a planetary magnetic field and complex, widely distributed auroras. Voyager 2 is still the only spacecraft to have visited the ice giants.
Both craft carry with them a 12-inch golden phonograph record that contains pictures and sounds of Earth along with symbolic directions on the cover for playing the record and data detailing the location of our planet. The record is intended as a combination of a time capsule and an interstellar message to any civilization, alien or far-future human, that may recover either of the Voyagers. The contents of this record were selected by a committee that included Timothy Ferris and was chaired by Carl Sagan.
The Voyager program’s discoveries during the primary phase of its mission, including never-before-seen close-up color photos of the major planets, were regularly documented by both print and electronic media outlets. Among the best-known of these is an image of the Earth as a Pale Blue Dot, taken in 1990 by Voyager 1, and popularized by Carl Sagan with the quote:
“Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam”.
As Voyager 2 is below the horizon for most of the year from where we are and Voyager 1 is roughly to the west, lining up approximately with the constellation Ophiuchus I decided to take myself for a late night run in that direction. 🙂
There is something magical about going for a run in the middle of the night. The air seems clarified somehow. The shadows thrown by the few streetlights stand out in the cool air and in my time out I heard only one car travel past. It’s a bit like floating in a dream where space and world drift past the somnambulist in a blur of silent-film tape.
Once again, good night 🙂
I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.
Distance: 1726.5 meters recorded
(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
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Thanks as ever for all the support!