My perspective on Voyager

February 04, 2014

I was born March 29, 1977. When I was 5 months and 7 days old, NASA launched the Voyager probe on September 5th 1977.

When I was 2 it passed Jupiter, when I was 3, Saturn. When I was 21 Voyager passed Pioneer 10 to become the most distant object ever launched by man. When I was 34 Voyager 1 entered interstellar space.

As long as I've been alive this probe has been moving through the Solar system at around 38,000 mph. That's more than the circumference of the earth, every hour, and it's just now at the edge of our solar system. 19 Billion KM away. That took a lot of time and it seems pretty far away from my perspective but the closest star to us is Alpha Centauri. It is 4.37 light years away, or 10 trillion km. After 36 years, Voyager 1 has only travelled only 1/526th of that distance. If I live to be 100 it will have travelled 3/526th of that distance. In about 19,000 years it will finally be that far out. (Not aimed in the direction of Alpha Centauri though.)

I think I am lucky to have lived in this time. It's like living in the 1400's when a new land was discovered. I can only imagine how exciting it would be to hear of a new land, which at the point in technology might have well been landing on another planet. Voyager one is like the early ships setting sail, not knowing what they will find. It's unlikely that Voyager will find any significant in my lifetime, or even many lifetimes after mine, but symbolically it will be the first, and for a while to come, the furthest out any human technology has ever gone.

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