Thursday, December 21, 2017

Voyager - Messenger of Earth to Alien Species

At a time when we are bombarded with sad news like terror attacks, wild fires, cyclones, sexual harassments; this one came as ray of hope in otherwise black sky.

NASA's Voyager team successfully completed probe’s Trajectory Correction Maneuver(TCM) by firing back up thrusters. They are using these thrusters after a long 37 years; and yes, it worked. As per Voyager’s project manager, TCM will enable the probe to extend its life by two or three years.
Voyager 1 was launched 40 years back (Sep 5, 1977; after its twin Voyager 2). Voyager 2 explored Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Meanwhile Voyager 1 overtook all probes send before it (Voyager 2, Pioneer 11 and Pioneer 10) and entered interstellar space (by the way Voyager 2 is also heading towards interstellar space). Voyager 1 is expected to continue her communication with earth till 2025; till she run out of electric power to operate its instruments.

Voyager 1 is one of the finest accomplishments of humanity; born in the golden era of space exploration when the cold war rivalries of US and Soviets provided ample funding for space race and exploration of unknown. Even after 40 years, it is still able to communicate with earth and send data which enabled us to understand more about our outer and interstellar space.

By the way Voyager series contains the golden record - a gold plated audio-visual disc carrying photos of earth, our life forms, scientific information, greetings from top leaders, sounds of various life forms in earth, work of musicians like Mozart, Chuck Berry, Valya Balkanska, Johnson; eastern and western classics etc. In addition to this golden record also has greetings in 55 languages and some information on how to play it. If any intelligent life forms ever found these records, then they will get some comfort from the fact that there are friends in other side of universe.

It is sad to see that golden era of space is over. Now countries pump billions on new generation fighter planes, missile systems etc. New generation equipments are invented to kill more people faster; but hardly much investment is made to exploring the unknown. Hope that at some point of time, governments or private corporations, even if it is for their selfish interests, will pump more money to space exploration.


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