Voyager 1: the silent harbinger of the human race
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 16, 2013 11:09
On the night of Sept. 18, a post on Tumblr that exclaimed exciting news for NASA’s Voyager I went viral and caused a lot of excitement. Launched on Sept. 5, 1977, the space probe has officially left the solar system. It has moved onward into interstellar space, the vast emptiness between stars.
When it was launched in 1977, Voyager I was ordained with the task of getting a close up look at Jupiter, Saturn and Saturn’s moon, Titan. The spacecraft dazzled astronomers and space enthusiasts with its imagery of the planets. After its visit to the gas giants, its course was headed to nowhere, straight out of the solar system.
The revelation of Voyager’s location has the scientific community reeling. Calling its one million-mile- a-day voyage as a superb feat that matches and exceeds most human achievements such as the moon landing. Voyager has certainly made truth far more interesting than fiction as its affirmation of the expansiveness of space and the nature of the environment that it is in. This event is extremely beneficial to our knowledge of the universe.
However, the question of how Voyager I will benefit us in the future is up for debate, due to the fact that the machine only has a few more years before it shuts off and goes silent.
The relevancy of the International Space Station, which many NASA scientists hold as the pinnacle of their achievements, is also being questioned with funding for the station to end in 2020.
The United States has spent more than one hundred billion on the station, in addition to yearly maintenance costs that add up to three billion dollars, and the governments of Japan, Russia, Canada and Europe have spent about the same amount to keep the station in the orbit.
The looming 2020 deadline has NASA insisting that the President come up with a plan that will keep the ISS fully functional after 2020, or else it may be deemed as another bridge to nowhere as it may stop operating.
Voyager I and the ISS are two examples of the trade off between expensive investment and vast gains in knowledge.
But the trade off is certainly worth it. Both projects have since taught space experts on how to approach future endeavors. For example, the ISS was created with the eventual goal of a mission to Mars in mind, while Voyager I has NASA thinking of where to send their next space probe.
Although these programs are certainly expensive, learning more about the universe is certainly a priceless mission.