This is where I will be tomorrow evening – I shall warm up the television and actually bother watching something live for once.
This is what makes us human. Shame we don’t do more of it, but props to Felix for having a good stab at it.
Although still lacking funding to extend its mission beyond Saturn, Nasa’s optimistic engineers loaded enough control propellant on board to keep the probes’ dishes orientated towards the Earth for decades after passing Saturn.
They’d also built the Voyager power supply system to last until at least the year 2020. But most visionary of all, they’d included five experiments on board that were capable of analyzing space beyond the Solar System.
In 1977, as the duo launched from Earth, no-one dared imagine that they would survive long enough to make such measurements. But in 2012, they’re still going strong – their pitifully weak signals just a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a watt of power by the time they reach the Earth. New discoveries are still being made.
Today, in a darkened lecture theatre at JPL – named after the same Theodore von Karman whose boundary to space our machines first crossed 70 years ago – sits a model of the Voyagers.
These great machines are now carrying our spirit of exploration across a boundary the Hungarian-American engineer could only dream of – into interstellar space.
Voyager: To The Final Frontier will be broadcast on BBC Four on Wednesday 24 October, 2012. It is produced and directed by Christopher Riley and presented by Dallas Campbell.