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NASA Space Science

35 Years Later, Voyager 1 Is Heading For the Stars 226

Posted by Soulskill
from the watch-out-for-black-holes dept.
DevotedSkeptic writes with news that today is the 35th anniversary of Voyager 1's launch. (Voyager 2 reached the same anniversary on August 20.) Voyager 1 is roughly 18 billion kilometers from the sun, slowly but steadily pushing through the heliosheath and toward interstellar space. From the article: "Perhaps no one on Earth will relish the moment more than 76-year-old Ed Stone, who has toiled on the project from the start. 'We're anxious to get outside and find what's out there,' he said. When NASA's Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 first rocketed out of Earth's grip in 1977, no one knew how long they would live. Now, they are the longest-operating spacecraft in history and the most distant, at billions of miles from Earth but in different directions. ... Voyager 1 is in uncharted celestial territory. One thing is clear: The boundary that separates the solar system and interstellar space is near, but it could take days, months or years to cross that milestone. ... These days, a handful of engineers diligently listen for the Voyagers from a satellite campus not far from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which built the spacecraft. The control room, with its cubicles and carpeting, could be mistaken for an insurance office if not for a blue sign overhead that reads 'Mission Controller' and a warning on a computer: 'Voyager mission critical hardware. Please do not touch!' There are no full-time scientists left on the mission, but 20 part-timers analyze the data streamed back. Since the spacecraft are so far out, it takes 17 hours for a radio signal from Voyager 1 to travel to Earth. For Voyager 2, it takes about 13 hours."
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35 Years Later, Voyager 1 Is Heading For the Stars

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  • by PCK (4192) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:17AM (#41233311) Homepage

    Granted it's built to more demanding specifications, but something lasting 35 years in deep space is quite an achievement.

    • by khallow (566160) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:24AM (#41233335)
      The problem is hard and easy. It's hard in that the primary problems of deep space spacecraft are very difficult, such as maintaining electronics for decades in an environment with hard radiation. But it's easy in that the environment doesn't change.

      You engineer for a fixed problem. Once you have something that works for a time in deep space, then you can tweak that solution to greatly extend the lifespan.
      • Not really... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by xded (1046894) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @10:58AM (#41234795)
        Radiation damage builds up with time, see Total Ionizing Dose (TID) effects [wikipedia.org]. Not so easy to "tweak" silicon devices to counteract lattice displacement effects (the only real solution being not relying on the silicon lattice, i.e., working with vacuum tubes).
      • by Tablizer (95088)

        But it's easy in that the environment doesn't change.

        But keep in mind that instruments brake down or degrade in unexpected ways over time, presenting unique engineering challenges. The Voyager probes are not their former selves. Thus, the "engineering environment" does change.

    • by DevotedSkeptic (2715017) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:30AM (#41233369) Homepage
      You are definitely correct. It is amazing to think that technology from 35 years ago is still operating and sending back data. We generally don't keep cars around for 35 years let alone computers, phones, or even kitchen appliances. Now there is a world of difference between these things i mentioned and the tight tolerances that went into Voyager, but it still absolutely amazing what we as humans have accomplished. Carl Sagan would have been excited with the current Mars Rover, along with all of the other projects that we have successfully launched, but I think he would be a bit saddened by the state of the manned programs.
      • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:36AM (#41233403)

        Not to understate the achievement, but comparing it to consumer hardware like cars is a bit of apples and oranges. It'd be more akin to military grade hardware like ships and planes. Of course, even for some of those, 35 years is a stretch... and NASA has never had the budget that the military does.

        • by petteyg359 (1847514) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @09:47AM (#41234033)

          That's why NASA gets stuff that works, and the military gets stuff that lets the contractors line their Olympic-sized pools with money.

          • by jayteedee (211241)

            how on earth was this comment "Insightful". Take a look at the financial figures. The market cap on Northrup Grumman is $16B. Raytheon is $19B. Boeing is $50B - which of course also has a commercial side. Microsoft is $262B. Apple is $630B. Amazon is $114B. Most of these companies (and others like Oracle, IBM, Target, Walmart, etc.) are bigger than ALL THE DEFENSE companies. Take a look at the history of these companies. The best ones track the DOW, Nasdaq, SP. The lesser ones don't even keep u

        • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @09:48AM (#41234043)
          Let's not forget that ships and planes have regular maintenance. This is a huge portion of the DoD budget. But nobody has taken a wrench or a soldering iron to the Voyagers in 35 years. At best there have been firmware updates.
        • by w_dragon (1802458)
          Just to be clear, that's 35 years without maintenance or refuelling. Maybe there are a couple military satellites still going that are 35 years old, but I doubt there's much else that hasn't undergone some major maintenance in that time.
        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          >>> It'd be more akin to military grade hardware like ships and planes. Of course, even for some of those, 35 years is a stretch...

          There are lots of military ships and planes with 35 year ages (aircraft carriers, bombers, Vietnam fighter jets). What they have to deal with is the constant erosion by earth's weather & hungry bacteria.

          In space none of that exists so deterioration is much slower: Basically zero in human lifespans. Voyager will eventually run-out of nuclear power, but its electron

        • i did mention that there is a "world of difference" between consumer autos/devices and voyager. One other point, the military constantly maintains the Jets, Ships, Vehicles, etc. Voyager doesn't get a lot of wrench time these days.
        • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @01:13PM (#41236591) Homepage Journal

          Of course, even for some of those, 35 years is a stretch...

          As an interesting counterexample, the B-52 Stratofortress [wikipedia.org] seems to be immortal:

          B-52s are periodically refurbished at USAF maintenance depots such as Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Even while the Air Force works on its Next-Generation Bomber and 2037 Bomber projects, it intends to keep the B-52H in service until 2045, nearly 90 years after the B-52 first entered service and an unprecedented length of service for a military aircraft.

          Also:

          At least one B-52 aviator's father and grandfather also flew the [very same] bomber.

    • by MxMatrix (1303567)

      Aye, just AWESOME engineering ... and truly worth every penny.
      Just hope some of the data will provide us with new insights on spaceflight.

    • by Snodgrass (446409)

      I also find it neat that there is something man-made that is 17 light-hours away. That is reeeeally far.

  • V'GER! (Score:5, Funny)

    by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:18AM (#41233313) Journal

    You will disclose the First Post. V'GER requires the information.

    • by orateam (861461)
      Tell VGER we will NOT give up the information!!! Only through direct INPUT can WE communicate with Vger! I believe your child is throwing a tantrum.
  • Has it made it ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbone (558574) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:22AM (#41233325)

    If you look at this picture [nasa.gov], it sure does look like Voyager 1 may have left the solar system (in a plasma sense) in late August. (In other words, it is no longer seeing protons from the solar wind, which means it may be outside of the Sun's bubble of plasma, and into the interstellar medium.

    If so, it has impeccable timing.

    • Re:Has it made it ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Immerman (2627577) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @11:24AM (#41235149)

      As they state, it is currently within the heliosheath - the turbulent boundary layer between Sol's plasma bubble and the interstellar medium, so it's outside the region thoroughly dominated by the sun's influence, but not yet within the interstellar medium. Quite an interesting region in it's own right, but not terribly informative of either bounding environment.

  • by Coisiche (2000870) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:22AM (#41233327)

    It would be nice to think that one day we'll reach a technological level that allows us to overtake Voyager 1. I'm not that hopeful though. I think that the head start Voyager 1 has means that it always will be more remote from Earth than anything else constructed here. Excluding Pioneer 10, that is.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Not in our lifetime. The CEOs and the politicians all need new Ferraris!

      • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:47AM (#41233491)

        CEOs and the politicians all need new Ferraris!

        Average people all need new mobile phones and x-boxes, when they could have pooled that money for space exploration. CEOs and politicians make easy targets.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lw7av (1734012)
      We won't be able to overtake but a space probe could in the immediate future (50 yrs). Plasma/ion propulsion and solar sail technologies are being developed with deep space exploration in mind.
    • by mbone (558574) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:37AM (#41233407)

      It would be nice to think that one day we'll reach a technological level that allows us to overtake Voyager 1. I'm not that hopeful though. I think that the head start Voyager 1 has means that it always will be more remote from Earth than anything else constructed here. Excluding Pioneer 10, that is.

      Voyager 1 is currently the most distant man-made object [nasa.gov], and is more distant than Pioneer 10.

    • by invid (163714) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:38AM (#41233421) Homepage
      Voyager 1's current speed is 17.46 km/s. That's fast, but the speed of light is about 299,792 km/s. We could right now, using nuclear propulsion and spending ridiculous amounts of money, we could reach about 10000 km/s and reach Voyager.
    • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:39AM (#41233429)

      It would be nice to think that one day we'll reach a technological level that allows us to overtake Voyager 1. I'm not that hopeful though. I think that the head start Voyager 1 has means that it always will be more remote from Earth than anything else constructed here. Excluding Pioneer 10, that is.

      There's some planetary alignment issues such that it would be really hard to catch Voyager. The New Horizons probe, despite being something like the fastest probe ever launched, is moving considerably slower because it had unfavorable gravitational assists, something like 10% slower than voyager. The planets have to line up, unless you do something ridiculous like launch a tennis ball a Saturn-V

      Both are practically slow crawling compared to the Helios probes from the late 70s/early 80s which were moving something like 6 times the speed, although toward the sun not away. The Helios probes are still the fastest controllable "things" produced by mankind. The "controllable" is necessary because there's a famous nuke bomb test film where analysis of adjacent frames shows a manhole cover moving about about 0.1c... at least for a little while.

      • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @09:37AM (#41233921) Homepage
        The manhole in question went 45 miles a second. That's around 70 kilometers a second whereas the speed of light is around 3*10^5 km/s. So it was going around .002 the speed of light, which is still very damn impressive but is a lot less than .1c. See http://professionalparanoid.wordpress.com/the-fastest-man-made-object-ever-a-nuclear-powered-manhole-cover-true/ [wordpress.com] for more about the manhole cover and the circumstances of its launch.
        • ha ha - great story about the world's fastest manhole cover ! That should have it's own slashdot entry.
      • How about ion engines, or solar sails?
      • > manhole cover moving about about 0.1c

        A manhole cover [wikipedia.org] has a mass over 50kg. Traveling at 0.1C, it's kinetic energy would be over 2x10^18 joules [google.com], which is about half a gigaton TNT equivalent [wikipedia.org].

        By comparison, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated [wikipedia.org] had a yield of 50 megatons.

        Moral of the story: never underestimate the venerable C (when compared to human scale objects and measurements).

        • It should be 2x10^16 joules, or 5 megatons (somehow 0.1C became C in the Google equation while copy-n-pasting). A little less impressive but still highly unlikely.

          Note to self: preview is your friend.

      • New Horizons had fastest Earth escape velocity. But it didnt have the gravitational slingslots of some of the other probes. Here is a list [daviddarling.info] of velocities.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It would be nice to think that one day we'll reach a technological level that allows us to overtake Voyager 1. I'm not that hopeful though. I think that the head start Voyager 1 has means that it always will be more remote from Earth than anything else constructed here. Excluding Pioneer 10, that is.

      We should have had planned and launched follower communication relay spacecrafts to maintain communication with them.

      But even though we didn't, I've heard that interstellar space should be a bit denser environment then interior of our Sun's heliosphere, so perhaps if they are slowed down by friction, an accelerating craft (solar sailboat or RTG powered ion rocket engine) could eventually catch up with them and keep in their radio communication range?

    • It would be nice to think that one day we'll reach a technological level that allows us to overtake Voyager 1. I'm not that hopeful though.

      For me the Infinite Improbability Drive is a fact as we're only limited by our own imagination.

    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @09:24AM (#41233785)

      It would be nice to think that one day we'll reach a technological level that allows us to overtake Voyager 1.

      Keep in mind that with the small velocities that our probes are leaving the Earth with at the moment, a small change of initial velocity makes for a big change in asymptotic velocity as the craft flies through the shallow parts of the gravity well (i.e., when it is far away). That means that we can already do that today.

      You don't even need to integrate any trajectory to find this out, that's simple physics the kind of which I was doing in high school. Just calculate the kinetic + potential energy balance of the Sun-Earth-spacecraft system. Just escaping the Sun means balancing the (negative) potential energy of the probe within Sun's gravity well. The balance is v_terminal^2*m*(1/2) = E_p + v_initial^2*m*(1/2), where E_p is negative, of course, and v_initial is the speed relative to the Sun after leaving the Earth ("leaving the Earth" meaning here "getting far away enough so that the remaining potential energy caused by the presence of Earth won't skew the results too much"). If v_initial is 42.1 kps, you'll end up with v_terminal = 0. You'll get that if you leave Earth with initial speed of 16.6 kps which you can calculate in a similar manner. Now as to the the deltas to initial velocity of 16.6 kps near Earth and respective final velocities relative to the Sun in the infinity:

      extra 1 kps => 10.6

      extra 2 kps => 15

      extra 3 kps => 18.4

      extra 4 kps => 21.2

      There are diminishing returns, but you can overtake Voyager 1 by having extra 3 kps when leaving the Earth *at any time*. The reason Voyager 1 is so fast despite having left Earth at a very modest velocity are the four grav assists. Today, all you need is the same ion engine that Dawn has and you're well on the way much faster than any probe before.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What the hell high school did you go to? The most they taught is my school is how to balance a check book and not everyone understood that...

      • Yeah, but that ~1kps difference needs to make up 10 billion km.

        That's about 315 years. So your new probe has to last that long. At least.

      • by mbone (558574)

        Well,V1 had only 2 gravity assists...

        And, as I posted above, the Jupiter-Saturn dual gravity assists come up every 19.87 years - the next will be at the end of the decade.

    • Not likely. The voyagers have used the position of the planets (a bit like a slingshot, using those planet's gravity), which were extraordinarily good at the time of launch. It will take a few centuries or millennia before we hit such a good position again. Space travel is not a question of hitting the gas pedal as hard as possible.
    • by jj00 (599158) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @10:10AM (#41234235)
      I've often thought about this, and while I don't know much about this stuff other than from a fan's perspective, I have always been curious why we don't send another Voyager-style craft into space every 10-20 years. Each craft could take advantage of improvements in our technology, and possibly be cheaper since it would be based on the same design. Each one could communicate back to the other instead of having to reach back to Earth on its own, kind of like a repeater. Also, if anything would go wrong with one of them, there would be another one not too far behind.
      • by C0R1D4N (970153)
        I think the pluto express would have done that, but it was canned.
      • There are a few reasons. Celestial mechanics is a big one: Voyager 2 took advantage of a rare planetary conjunction so it could visit all four of the gas giants. The next chance to do that is in something like 150 years.
        Most of the time you'd be spending $$$ on a fly-by of one planet, and that money would be better spent on a mission that can orbit that planet instead. So instead of Voyager-style craft, you get missions like these:
        Cassini-Huygens: Saturn and its moons
        Dawn: Vesta in 2011-2012, and Ceres in 2

    • by mbone (558574)

      I have tried to get some people at NASA Advanced Concepts interested in a voyage to Sedna [caltech.edu] (now near perihelion at ~ 89 AU). Sedna is especially interesting because of its orbit - there is a chance it is an interloper from another solar system [arxiv.org]. It's so far away that a trip in a reasonable time would require a higher velocity than Voyager.

      Note, by the way, that the next double Jupiter - Saturn orbital assist would require Jupiter passage ~ 2018 and Saturn passage in ~ 2019. These only repeat every 19.87 yea

    • by necro81 (917438)
      For what it is worth: Voyager 1 travels faster than Pioneer 10, and overtook it (in terms of distance from the sun) many years ago. Pioneer 10 is 16.8 billion km from the sun, traveling at 12.0 km/sec [nasa.gov]. Voyager 1 is 20 billion km away, traveling at 17.0 km/sec [nasa.gov]. New Horizons, currently en route to Pluto, will also head out from the solar system. It also went on a very fast trajectory (e.g., it achieved sun escape velocity directly from launch, rather than through gravity assists). However, New Horizons h
  • iPod (Score:5, Funny)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:28AM (#41233345)

    "Each only has 68 kilobytes of computer memory. To put that in perspective, the smallest iPod — an 8-gigabyte iPod Nano — is 100,000 times more powerful."

    So what you're saying is that if I upgrade my computer from a 500GB hard disk to a 2TB hard disk, it makes the entire computer 4 times more powerful?

    • I think they're comparing RAM with solid state storage space, so it's even more nonsensical.
    • This is the best analogy I've ever seen.
    • by jkflying (2190798)

      If hard drive space was your bottleneck - yes. Imagine if every time you tried to store more than 500GB you had to swap out to tape...

    • by necro81 (917438)

      So what you're saying is that if I upgrade my computer from a 500GB hard disk to a 2TB hard disk, it makes the entire computer 4 times more powerful

      According to what passes for science and technology journalism in this day and age, yes.

  • slowly but steadily pushing through the heliosheath

    Phwoar!

  • 2020? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hamvil (1186283)
    In the article they say that Voyager has fuel until 2020. What is the fuel for? Communications? Or also for maneuvering? Which orbit will it follows after there is no more fuel?
    • It's nuclear powered, so I believe it's just enough fuel to maintain its current minimal levels of operation until 2020, after which it will be little more than a chunk of metal floating through space.

      • by Velex (120469)

        It's nuclear powered, so I believe it's just enough fuel to maintain its current minimal levels of operation until 2020, after which it will be little more than a chunk of metal floating through space.

        Probably, but to karma whore a bit, as Sagan writes in Pale Blue Dot (pp 124-125):

        Accordingly, as each Voyager left Earth for the planets and the stars, it carried with it a golden phonograph record encased in a golden, mirrored jacket containing, among other things: greetings in 59 human languages, and one whale language; a 12-minute sound essay including a kiss, a baby's cry, and an EEG record of the meditations of a young woman in love; 116 encoded pictures, on our science, our civilization, and ourselves; and 90 minutes of the Earth's greatest hits—Eastern and Western, classical and folk, including a Navajo night chant, a Japanese shakuhachi piece, a Pygmy girl's initiation song, a Peruvian wedding song, a 3,000-year-old composition for the ch'in called "Flowering Streams," Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Stravinsky, Louis Armstrong, Blind willie Johnson, and Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode."

        Space is nearly empty. There is virtually no chance that one of the Voyagers will ever enter another solar system...

        But being much more advanced scientists and engineers than we—otherwise they would never be able to find and retrieve the small, silent spacecraft in interstellar space—perhaps the aliens would have no difficulty understanding what is encoded on these golden records.

    • Re:2020? (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:50AM (#41233519) Journal

      Communications, I believe. It is just going where its inertia takes it at this point, and heading out of the solar system. It is obviously still under the gravitational influence of bodies in the solar system(and all the other ones, as best we can tell); but it isn't on a path that would be described as an 'orbit' in anything like the usual use of the term.

    • Re:2020? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mbone (558574) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @09:15AM (#41233687)

      The two Voyagers are gyroscope stabilized, so they don't need fuel for attitude control.

      They are powered by Plutonium 238 RTG's, and that power is steadily declining as the Plutonium decays and the thermocouples age. I think that is what the article is referring to. I wouldn't call them fuel.

    • I remember reading somewhere (National Geographic?) that they need to use some energy to keep the electronics warm enough to operate. Its probably still *very* cold in there, but the few milliwatts of heat provides just enough to stop the electronics packing up.
    • Re:2020? (Score:5, Informative)

      by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @10:13AM (#41234259) Journal
      The fuel they speak of is hydrazine, and it is used for maneuvering; specifically for maintaining the orientation of the craft so that the antenna is pointed Earthward, and also to spin the craft about its axis periodically to recalibrate some of the sensors. The electronics are powered by three nuclear batteries, which are also expected to "run out" at about the same time. From Wikipedia:

      Both spacecraft also have adequate electrical power and attitude control propellant to continue operating until around 2025, after which there may not be available electrical power to support science instrument operation. At that time, science data return and spacecraft operations will cease.

    • by jschen (1249578)
      The power of the plutonium RTGs continually declining is one issue, as already noted. Another issue is the finite amount of hydrazine on board for what little maneuvering may need to be done. See the last paragraph of this page [nasa.gov] and this article [universetoday.com].
  • by Comboman (895500) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:34AM (#41233385)

    So Voyager 2 was launched weeks before Voyager 1? Was the launch schedule changed at the last minute?

    • by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:38AM (#41233423)

      George Lucas is to blame. He edited the order in Voyager: Special Edition.

    • by Daetrin (576516)
      Not only that, but...

      "Since the spacecraft are so far out, it takes 17 hours for a radio signal from Voyager 1 to travel to Earth. For Voyager 2, it takes about 13 hours."

      So Voyager 2 launched before Voyager 1, but despite that (fairly trivial) headstart of a couple weeks, Voyager 1 has traveled almost 30% farther than Voyager 2. Clearly there's some kind of tortoise and hare thing going on here. Perhaps it's time to start reading wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:40AM (#41233443)

      So Voyager 2 was launched weeks before Voyager 1? Was the launch schedule changed at the last minute?

      No. Per this:

      http://space.about.com/od/spaceexplorationhistory/p/voyager1.htm

      "Voyager 1 was launched after Voyager 2, but because of a faster route, it exited the asteroid belt earlier than its twin. It began its Jovian imaging mission in April 1978 at a range of 265 million kilometers from the planet; images sent back by January the following year indicated that Jupiter's atmosphere was more turbulent than during the Pioneer flybys in 1973 and 1974."

  • Some kind of dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @08:37AM (#41233411)

    Voyager seems to be "heading for the stars" once every six months:
    - http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/06/15/0115226/new-signs-voyager-is-nearing-interstellar-space
    - http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/04/14/012219/voyager-and-the-coming-great-hiatus-in-deep-space
    - http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/12/07/2127247/voyager-1-exits-our-solar-system
    - http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/04/28/2314203/voyager-set-to-enter-interstellar-space
    - http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/12/14/1451216/voyager-1-beyond-solar-wind

    • by Teresita (982888)
      Voyager seems to be "heading for the stars" once every six months

      The Linux Desktop is headed for the stars. You'll see!
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Because the Solar system doesn't have a clearcut borderline, crossing the heliosphere takes time.

    • by clovis (4684) *

      That is correct. We're all hoping it does not turn around and come back.

    • The approximate age a slashdotter leaves his parents basement for an apartment :-)
  • 35 years form now we won't have any similar legacy from what we are doing now.
    • Yes, we will have the top 1% of the top 1% of 1% of income earners so far above the middle class that they will appear to have overtaken Voyager 1 by several lightyears.

  • by Drethon (1445051) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @09:26AM (#41233809)
    Every time we have a new way of viewing the universe it seems like scientists get results mildly or completely different from what they expect. I'm looking forward to the possibility of the data coming back from Voyager completely conflicting with expectations and resulting in new theories.
  • I though V....ger went off-line in 1998.
  • Isn't that like 18 trillion meters or something?

  • Whatever else we may think about the USA, they have done some cool stuff from time to time.

  • It's so amazing these two craft are still functioning at all. True, shrinking power levels and malfunctions have ended the life of some instrumentation. But 35 years alone with no chance of repairs and still pumping out valuable data! It's just incredible. I can't imagine that a 35+ year lifespan was even in anyone's wildest dreams. Hoped for, certainly...but to actually do it? Wow. So many things could've gone wrong. Hardware failure, software failure, micro-meteors, radiation, solar flare, human e
  • by vjl (40603) <vjl@@@vjl...org> on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @12:24PM (#41235967) Homepage Journal

    I wish my grandfather was still alive to see Voyager 1 still in operation. He worked on the batteries and electrical system on the Voyager probes, spending most of his adult life working at JPL. He would be thrilled to know that they were both still operating, exploring, and sending data back to earth. Impressive!

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