This article was originally published at: Speech. (opens in new tab) The publication contributed the article to Space.com. Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Alice Gorman (opens in new tab)Associate Professor of Archeology and Space Studies, Flinders University
On August 20, 1977, 45 years ago, an extraordinary spacecraft made an unprecedented journey from this planet. passenger 2 it would show us for the first time what the outer solar system planets look like up close. It was like sending a fly to New York and asking him to let him know.
passenger 1 It was launched on September 5 after Voyager 2. Attached to the side of each Voyager is a Gold Plaque featuring incoming greetings, sounds, images and music. Soil.
The spacecraft was more or less twin but had different orbits and scientific instruments. While they both fly Jupiter and SaturnVoyager 1 then accelerated into interstellar space. Voyager 2 attempted its only ever visit to the ice giants. Uranus and Neptune.
Gallery: Celebrate 45 years of Voyager with these stunning images of our solar system
Arriving at Uranus in 1986, Voyager 2 mapped pale blue-green clouds and a possible “dark spot.” Hubble space telescope. there was an unexpected situation Magnetic field (opens in new tab)It dragged a trail of corkscrew particles behind the planet as it rolled in its orbit. this new moons (opens in new tab) discovered including gray, cratered disk (opens in new tab)and two new coal-black rings.
Three years later, Voyager 2 reached Neptune and sent home images of teal and cobalt clouds swirling with winds reaching 11,000 mph (18,000 km/h). A slate-colored “great dark spot” indicated a worldwide storm. biggest moon, Tritonturned pink and sprayed from methane ice frozen nitrogen geysers (opens in new tab).
No spacecraft has returned since then.
messages for the future
Even more than these snapshots of distant icy planets, what fascinates people about the Voyager mission is the famous Gold Records (opens in new tab). A committee led by the visionary astronomer Carl Sagan worked for more than a year (opens in new tab) Gathering together materials to represent planet Earth. The music gets the most attention as a “mix tape for the universe,” but that’s not the only thing that stands out.
One of the voices of the world, stone tool manufacturing (opens in new tab)or “crop”. This is the most durable technology in use, designed by humans and their ancestors. for about 3 million years (opens in new tab) before to the present. For most of human existence, the sound of stone hitting stone has been heard every day in every community to separate a sharp-edged cutting scale.
In the recording, you can hear the rumbling of stones against the sound of their heartbeat.
In one of the 116 images, a Black scientist in a lab coat leans over the microscope, layered earrings gracefully falling from his ears. Earrings have been the subject of some debate: Could a future alien viewer recognize the concept of “jewelry”? It was hoped with this image. photomicrograph (opens in new tab) The number of cells dividing in Picture 17 will help viewers understand that the science of microscopy is known on our planet.
Saved people Messages in 55 languages (opens in new tab). Some are ancient languages, for example Akkadian (opens in new tab) and Hittite, unheard of on Earth for thousands of years. The most frequently used words are “hello”, “peace” and “friend”. The Portuguese greeting spoken by Janet Sternberg simply says “Peace and happiness to all.”
Finally, in 2018, Voyager 2 joined Voyager 1 beyond the heliopause, where the solar wind was turned back by winds from interstellar space. Our Galaxy is 100,000 light years and Voyager 2 is currently just under 18 light-hours from Earth.
Both spacecraft send reed signals traveling between planets to three antennas that are still listening: Tidbinbilla (opens in new tab)Goldstone and Madrid.
Before really leaving, the Voyagers Oort CloudVast, dark sphere of icy objects that have encircled the solar system for 20,000 years.
Slowly, Voyager 2s systems are shutting down (opens in new tab) to extend the power as long as possible. But there won’t be a day in the 2030s.
Even after Voyager 2 stops transmitting, it won’t be completely dead. The half-life of plutonium-238 in the nuclear power source is 87.7 years, while that of the small patch is 87.7 years. uranium-238 coating (opens in new tab) 4.5 billion years in the Golden Record. Both elements are slowly turning into lead.
The radioactive transformation of the elements is a kind of reverse alchemy on the cosmic time scale. This process of becoming will not end until there is nothing left to transform in Voyager 2.
Continuous bombardment by dust particles will gradually erode Voyager 2’s surfaces, possibly at a higher rate than Voyager 1 because it travels through different regions of interstellar space. However, the Gold Record at least partially readable 5 billion years later.
The Earth depicted in the Golden Record will likely be unrecognizable 100 years from now. The spacecraft and records will remain a fragmented archaeological record for an unknown future.
While the Golden Records are endlessly fascinating, the true cultural significance of the Voyagers lies where they are found. Spacecraft are landmarks showing the physical extent of human interaction with the universe.
When the Voyagers cut off the transmission, it’ll be like losing your senses. Telescopes can only show us so much: Nothing beats being there.
Who will follow their path?
This article has been republished from: Speech (opens in new tab) Under Creative Commons license. To read original article.
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