A Real Star Trek: Voyager 1 Going Where No Man Has Ever Gone
Launched in 1977, when America danced to Disco Fever and the video tape was fairly new for consumers (not mention the first Star Wars movie), the Voyager 1 is the real star trek and continues onward on its 36-year voyage to go where no man has gone before.
It is the first man-made object to exit our solar system. It cruises at 38,000 mph and is now 11.7 billion miles from Florida, where it lifted off decades ago. The spacecraft is about the size of a small car. It carries a time capsule that period should aliens seize the craft: there is a gold plated LP record with greetings from Earth messages, songs and photos. The songs an alien can hear include, Chuck Berry's iconic, Johnny B. Good, classics from Mozart, Beethoven and Louis Armstrong.
Hmm, what would an alien even think of this? Perplexing! Primitive?
When launched, Voyager 1 and 2 were going to explore the more remote planets of Jupiter and Saturn and others. Voyager 1 moved onto explore the last planet in our system, Pluto. It is now in interstellar space beyond Pluto and communicates with NASA. At about 22 watts, Voyager 1's main transmitter signal pulses like a police radio and it takes 17 hours to get to NASA.
While it is moving fast and has at least until 2025 before it begins to shutdown, it is still 40,000 years from Alpha Centauri! Its partner, Voyager 2, is 9.5 billion miles from the sun. The two voyagers will reunite in about three years.
Perhaps even more amazing is the technology and how it has changed in 36 years. When NASA launched both Voyagers, the 8-track tape was fading as the cassette was a new way for music. Their on-board computers had 240,000 times less memory than low-end iPhone! The mission was only to last four years, but the plutonium powered Voyagers simply kept working way beyond the expectations of its makers. It sent back astonishing photos of the rings of Saturn and the mysterious red spot.
Who knows what else they will find or send back between now and 2025. Stay tuned, Captain Kirk!