Voyager 1 and 2 are two space probes that have been in space for 45 years and are still working and haven’t had any major problems. This is an important moment in the history of science, because projects of this kind don’t usually go this far without any problems.
You might think that this is because there have been so many accidents in space, from asteroids to weather, and also because many of the ships and machines that are sent into space are designed to stop working after a certain amount of time, creating what we call “space debris.”
But Voyager 1 and 2 are not like this. This pair of ships is the longest and goes the farthest in the history of humanity, which is 45 years old today, August 20, 2022.
Both Voyager 1 and 2 have important messages in case they are ever found by an alien race. This is not the only mission that NASA has done to try to communicate with possible aliens. Since 1974, messages have been sent to possible aliens through projects like “Lighthouse in the galaxy.”
But Voyager 1 and 2 were meant to do more than just talk. They were meant to give important information about life on Earth so that people could better understand it. Because of this, this pair of NASA probes has become a kind of time capsule that shows what people cared about during a certain time. For example, they each have an eight-track tape player to record data, but because of the passage of time and improvements in technology, they have about 3 million times less memory than modern mobile phones and send data about 38,000 times slower than a 5G internet connection.
Even with these technological setbacks, Voyager 1 and 2 are still at the forefront of space exploration. They are the only probes that have been to interstellar space and have been working for 45 years.
These probes are run and managed by NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and they have gone through the galactic ocean that our Sun and planets travel through. So, the things they have helped us find out have been very important to understanding how our Sun and its heliosphere (the area affected by the solar wind) work, especially when combined with new information about interstellar space.
On Voyager 1 and 2, there are also gold hard drives with pictures of life on Earth and diagrams of some basic scientific ideas, as well as sounds of nature, greetings in several languages, and music, in case these probes are ever found by aliens looking for life. However, because gold wears away, the records must be found in the next billion years… it looks like we still have time.
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