Voyager Turns 30

No, not the Star Trek series with the Borg sweetie pie. I mean the two little intrepid spacecraft, Voyager I and Voyager II, launched August 20th and September 5th, 1977. Though the first Star Trek movie did use the idea of “Voyager” as an alien ship threatening to destroy earth. Apparently, some “living machines” found “Voyager 6” and the name “Voyager” on its side was covered in space dust so that it read “Vger,” and the robots built a gigantic spaceship around it as a shrine and were returning to earth to join “Vger” to its “creator.”


I was just 9 years old, and not quite a space geek yet, but following the course of these two spacecraft to Jupiter and Saturn, and eventually Uranus and Neptune, ignited my interest in astronomy. My grandmother would purchase me a year’s subscription to National Geographic every Christmas as a gift until her death, and when the 1979 issue arrived with full page spreads of the images of Jupiter, I devoured the magazine and looked at it over and over again. I did the same a year or so later when the issue highlighting the images taken of Saturn. In the 80’s the spacecraft photographed the first close up images of Uranus and Neptune, with Neptune’s photos being the most dazzling.

Then, on Valentine’s Day of 1990, Voyager I took a picture looking back at our solar system from its very edge. Found in the photo was a faint image of Earth being bathed in a beam of sun light. Atheist astronomer, Carl Sagan, called it the Pale Blue Dot and used the image as an illustration for a book describing our insignificance as humanity in a vast universe. I on the other hand see our uniqueness as a special creation of God.

The Planetary Society website has an article celebrating the thirty years of operation of these two Voyagers. Even after 30 years, they are both transmitting signals to Earth. I think that is just too cool. Make sure to follow some of the links detailing their specific missions.


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