Space. The final frontier. We’re familiar with the voyages of the Starship Enterprise and its mission – to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before. During the years of Star Trek: The Original Series and subsequent spin-offs, mankind has used its imagination in an attempt to answer just what might be out there. Through the course of various incarnations, new planets and new civilizations were indeed discovered, but revelations in real life haven’t been quite so dramatic. Or have they?
In comparison with television, one may not think that certain pieces of information gleaned by NASA would be significant, but perhaps if you take a closer look, you might discover exactly how marvelous what discoveries have been made truly are. Think about it, what do we know about this universe, or even our own solar system? In comparison with what we could know, it’s hardly anything. That hasn’t stopped man from attempting to find out.
So what have we found out. Not as much as we would like, but maybe more than you might imagine. Back in 1977, two space probes were launched – Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Originally, the mission was to fly by some of the outer planets to get more information. That mission became extended as both Voyagers continued to function. Eventually, these two spacecrafts went so far, scientists believe they have reached the edge of our solar system – and may be the first man made objects to ever escape. These two probes provided the world with far more information about the planets in our solar system than even NASA had thought possible. From the array of colours to the existence of active volcanoes (something scientists previously thought only existed on earth), the Voyager probes have increased knowledge of our planetary community in ways completely unexpected. Currently, those two probes are still traveling and seem to have reached the edge of the heliosphere, the area of space where the Sun has no influence – and they’re still transmitting information back home.
Want to know more? Check out the following links to learn about this fascinating mission:
Is There An Edge To The Heavens – 2012 Radio Lab podcast about the Voyagers.
Voyager – Dedicated portion of National Geographic website to the history of the Voyager mission
Voyager: The Interstellar Mission – NASA’s website provides you with the latest news from both Voyagers.