On September 12, 2013, NASA officially announced that Voyager 1 had left the solar system and begun it’s journey into interstellar space. Voyager 1 was launched on September 5, 1977 to study the outer Solar System and interstellar medium. As of August 2013, it is 125 Astronomical Units (AU) from the Sun. One AU is equivalent to the average distance of the Earth to the Sun, roughly 145.5 billion miles. Voyager is currently the furthest man-made object from Earth.
As a throwback to the year Voyager 1 was launched, we found NASA’s Highlights of the 1977 Aeronautics and Space Report. The report outlines some of NASA’s projects at the time, including the Space Shuttle, Voyagers, Landsat, Spacelab, HEAO-1 and energy research.
Even solar satellites could be constructed to beam the sun’s energy to earth if it becomes an economic and reasonable alternative to some of our ground based energy resources.
The video is imbued with an optimism for the potential the technology brings. Voyager 1’s description begins at 7:01 in the video.
In space science, two unmanned Voyager spacecrafts… are now on their way to the planets Jupiter and Saturn. Their journey could last over a decade with investigations of more than a dozen major planetary bodies, including Uranus. The program is designed to yield valuable new information about the origins of the solar system and the formation of the Earth.
There is also a description of the message NASA put on Voyager 1.
…each carrying a cosmic greeting card in the form of a copper record. Called the “Sounds of Earth”, they were assembled by a group of prominent scientists and educators. The record begins with 115 photographs and diagrams in analog form that describe mathematics, chemistry, geology, and biology of Earth and our location. The pictures are followed by spoken greeting in 60 language… the sounds of weather, surf, birds and other animals. And almost 90 minutes of music from around the world.
The video ends with an animation of an older NASA logo, nicknamed “The Worm”, which was retired from official use in 1992. Most people are familiar with NASA’s current blue “Meatball” or “Vector” logo.
Much has happened on Earth since the launch of Voyager 1, the logo animations are a small and humorous indicator of our evolving culture. The continued success of the Voyager 1 mission and its contributions to human knowledge about the cosmos isn’t lost on us. As we look at thirty-six-year-old videos and admire the changes that have occurred on Earth since, we can only wonder where we might be thirty six years from now in our efforts to understand the universe around us.