Search results for: "voyager 1"

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President Jimmy Carter’s Voyager Letter To Any Theoretical Extraterrestrials Out There

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VoyagerThe Voyager 1 probe made history last month when scientists agreed that it had finally, officially ventured beyond our solar system and entered interstellar space. Even if Voyager’s distance traveled is not even a gnat’s eyelash when considered against the unfathomable scale of our universe, it was still an exciting landmark, one that reminds us that our species is capable of great accomplishments when we’re not so facedown in the mud that we lose sight of the stars.

You’ve all probably heard of the so-called “Golden Records” that were included on the Voyager craft. They contain tons of images, sounds, and information about our species and our world, designed to serve as a sort of time capsule of who and what we were at the time we sent Voyager 1 and 2 off into the void. They also contained copies of a letter from then-President Jimmy Carter, a greeting to any extraterrestrial explorers who might someday cross paths with Voyager. (Admittedly, a very unlikely scenario given the sheer size of our galaxy, and the comparative tininess of Voyager. But you never know.) While the aliens obviously wouldn’t speak English, the many different languages included on the Records would theoretically serve as a sort of Rosetta Stone to help them interpret our messages.

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Seven Possible Scenarios For Manned Interstellar Travel

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starshipSince we learned that Voyager 1 has been in interstellar space for over a year, it’s become a bit easier to imagine that someday humans might follow. At the moment, we’re a bit more focused on getting humans to Mars and watching how that goes on reality TV, but scientists are thinking big and many of them believe that we can make major strides in interstellar travel in the next 100 years. That is, if the government gets its act together.

Of course, while some scientists believe colonizing space is an eventuality, others believe it’ll never happen, and some, including NASA’s former Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project head, Marc Millis, question the claim that we could reach the stars this century. The problem is that we don’t currently know of a way to power these trips, and even when we do figure that out, it’ll take a while to implement those technologies in interstellar spacecraft. Still, even Millis is game to try — he founded the Tau Zero Foundation to research technologies that might propel us beyond the solar system.

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The Creepy Sounds Of Interstellar Space

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The Voyager 1 spacecraft is the first man-made craft ever to leave the solar system and journey into interstellar space. It’s been exploring the cosmos for some 36 years, and is now venturing into far-out territory. Scientists monitoring the craft know that it’s moving through interstellar plasma, which is far denser than solar plasma. No one knows exactly what’s out there, but one thing we’d all probably suspect is that space is dark, cold, and eerily quiet.

We might have two out of three right, but apparently interstellar space isn’t the soundless expanse we’d expect. It does have a sound — and a really creepy one at that. It reminds me a bit of the screech of Babylon 5‘s Shadow vessels.

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Astronomy Pictures Of The Year Are Gorgeous And Humbling

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EarthSpaceSpace is just awesome and amazing and stupefying and beautiful. Since you’re currently reading GFR, I think we can all probably agree with those statements. One of the great joys of writing for this site is that I’m constantly exposed to new wonders our ambitious species has captured and dragged down into our clumsy, surface-bound existence. Sometimes it’s new discoveries which could fundamentally change our world for the better. Sometimes it’s a new science fiction story which uses the metaphor of the fantastic to comment on the day-to-day questions and crises we all have to deal with. Sometimes it’s just a freakin’ gorgeous picture of our awe-inspiring cosmos…and sometimes it’s a whole bunch of those.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition has just announced the winners of their annual competition across multiple categories, and they’re just as stunning as you might expect. The picture above, entitled “Guiding Light to the Stars,” was shot by Mark Gee of Australia, and is the “Overall Earth and Space” winner. It shows the Milky Way rising over the horizon of New Zealand’s North Island, in the hours before dawn. The bright light on the right is a lighthouse, but even with that extra light creeping in, Gee’s panoramic shot shows gorgeous detail of the heart of our galaxy, clustered together some 26,000 light years away. As Keanu Reeves has been known to say, “Woah.”

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Look Up Screensaver Showcases Our Stellar Neighbors We Might Someday Visit

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“Look upwards, and share the wonders I’ve seen.”

Those lines were spoken by wayward astronaut John Crichton in the opening title sequence of Farscape, still one of my favorite science fiction shows of all time. It speaks to something that Farscape did very well: conjuring a sense of wonder and awe at our vast universe, and the varied life that might be out there. I don’t know whether the above video, entitled Look Up, was as an intentional tip of the hat to Farscape or not, but either way the result is the same: I really, really want to go exploring. (And also rewatch Farscape).

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The Solar System Has A Tail

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solar system's heliotailAh, space. You never disappoint. You’ve always been the source of tales, but now you’re also the source of a tail. Our solar system’s tail, to be precise.

Apparently NASA has known about this for a while, but just recently observed the comet-like tail, called a heliotail for its cloverleaf shape, for the first time. NASA’s interstellar boundary explorer, IBEX, has for a few years been collecting data from the edge of our solar system, focusing particularly on the effects of solar wind. Using three years of data and images from IBEX, scientists have been able to map the boundaries of the solar system, including its heliotail.

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