Happy 40th, Voyagers 1 and 2

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
gitgeezer
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Happy 40th, Voyagers 1 and 2

Post by gitgeezer » Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:27 pm

Voyagers 1 and 2 launched in August and September 1977 on a grand tour of the outer planets all the way to Neptune. At that time the planets aligned in such a way that one planet could provide a slingshot effect to boost a spacecraft to the next planet, allowing four planets to be visited in one decade rather than several decades. Such a window would not be open again for 175 years.

The project, with Neptune as the final target, was rejected by Congress in favor of a cheaper version with Saturn as the final target. The project engineers said "okay," then continued work on the Neptune-targeted project.

In hindsight, it was almost unbelievably ambitious. The onboard computers were weaker than those in modern digital watches and the analog TV cameras were less advanced than those used for 1970s sitcoms. And yet the Voyagers keep on ticking, presently exploring the region where the solar winds meet interstellar space. Estimates are that they will continue to operate until about 2030, when their plutonium fuel supply will finally be exhausted.

Of course the main accomplishment in the minds of most of us were the amazing images of the planets and their moons. Some of the major discoveries: Jupiter has rings; Saturn has far more rings than the five previously counted; Jupiter's Io and Saturn's Triton have active volcanoes; Jupiter's Europa and Saturn's Enceladus have environments that could harbor life.

Laudiesdad69
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Re: Happy 40th, Voyagers 1 and 2

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:42 am

It will be interesting to see what the clipper is going to find. Hopefully it will be up in 2020.

Andrew Pohlman
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Re: Happy 40th, Voyagers 1 and 2

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:45 pm

gitgeezer wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:27 pm
... presently exploring the region where the solar winds meet interstellar space.
Is this the "Termination Shock" area? I thought the 2 voyagers already formally passed into interstellar space?

Anyway, it is remarkable! It's a shame they could not be aimed at the Alpha Centauri system. I mean, we are sending proof of life on other worlds! Why not make sure it is headed for a system that may have a population? Nobody thinks there are "deep space manta rays", intelligent or otherwise, swimming the interstellar seas who might take interest in our wayward spacecraft. But by all means, correct my understanding of this. :D

Another question: did Chuck Berry get royalties for allowing his music to be sent into interstellar space? Mozart has been dead too long, although I would guess some gold digger would sue for copyright infringement anyway. :D

UPDATE: I looked it up and found all copyright holders were given $0.02 per copy, so 4 cents total, for the "galactic rights". So basically, they give the rights for free. The Beatles demand for hefty royalties meant they were turned down. :D Here is the article.
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gitgeezer
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Re: Happy 40th, Voyagers 1 and 2

Post by gitgeezer » Tue Sep 19, 2017 12:56 pm

According to the Jet Propulsion Lab, "Voyager 1 is in 'Interstellar space' and Voyager 2 is currently in the 'Heliosheath'—the outermost layer of the heliosphere where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar gas." And though Voyager 1 has been officially declared to be in interstellar space, it is still recording particles from the solar wind.

The media commonly report that Voyager 1 has left the solar system. Well, hardly. It still has to pass through the Oort cloud, which it will not even reach for another 300 years. And the Oort cloud is so vast that it will take Voyager about 30,000 years to pass through it. Only then will it truly exit the solar system.

And what if it were headed toward the Alpha Centauri star system? That system is about 4.2 light years distant. A light year is about 6 trillion miles, so about 25 trillion miles. At its current speed of about 35,000 mph, it would take Voyager about 80,000 years to reach it. By that time newer technology will speed spacecraft right past slowpoke Voyager, probably before it even reaches the Oort cloud.

And what about the concern that a map aboard Voyager of the location of Earth within the solar system might tell hostile aliens where we are? Not to worry. In another 100 years or so, if the concern persists, we can just send a spaceship out to bring the Voyagers back and put them in a museum. And what if aliens find it before then? They'll be so close to us, relatively, that they'll already know we're here. After all, they'll have been picking up our radio signals for at least 100 years. It reminds me of that episode of Futurama, in which angry aliens invade Earth because their favorite TV show had been cancelled.

Andrew Pohlman
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Re: Happy 40th, Voyagers 1 and 2

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:05 pm

Gitgeezer - yah - I was never worried about aliens finding a map to Earth. And even if they did, and could zoom to Earth in advanced spacecraft, I'm sure they would be benevolent and provide many medical miracles, like a cure for baldness. That or they came for the Chicago stuffed pizza! :D And assuming they have advanced intelligence, they will probably steer clear of this messed up planet out of self preservation...

And darkly similar to your Futurama reference, the movie Jupiter Rising poses an interesting concept: planets are "managed" with the intention to push the population to unsustainable levels. Then they harvest all the humans to make skin cream and reseed. If that were true, I think Planet Earth is getting close to harvest time...

In more realistic terms, if aliens species have been searching the skies as we do, they would have recognized Earth as habitable, and subsequently aimed a few antennae at us. If my understanding of the distances and EM waves is correct, the intelligent species of Centauri would be receiving season 3 of Game of Thrones right about now. :D

Thanks for the post about Voyager! It makes me happy to think we humans do astonishing things from time to time!!!
2013 Rodriguez FF Sabicas blanco
2015 Trevor Gore custom Neoclassical
- redwood top, Palo dorado B+Ss.

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PaulHardy
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Re: Happy 40th, Voyagers 1 and 2

Post by PaulHardy » Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:36 pm

Hear hear, a remarkable achievement

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