Voyager One: Earth’s First Interstellar Spacecraft

Voyager One: Earth’s First Interstellar Spacecraft

At the time, they thought maybe the ship had “officially” left the solar system.  It would take a while to decide because it is one of those things where hindsight is 20×20.  You can’t know where you are until you know where you’ve been.  That doesn’t mean that it has left the sphere of the sun’s gravity influence.  The Oort Cloud, the distant region of left-over material from which comets derive, still orbits the sun and stretches a very great distance between the stars.  Voyager won’t even enter the Oort cloud for roughly another thirteen hundred years.  But for purposes of studying what interstellar is, Voyager has entered it and will study it for the remainder of its life.

I learned today that the probe is on its way to a rendezvous with a star with the geeky name of AC +79 3888 40,000 years from now.  Now I couldn’t find this star on my favorite cosmology lookup site, solstation.com, so I wikied it.  Wiki said that it has a better name, Gliese 445, also not listed on SolStation.  Reading in Wikipedia I learned that even though this red dwarf star is currently 17.6 light years away, it is moving very rapidly towards us, such that it will be only 3.45 light years away from our sun when Voyager zooms reaches it.  I don’t know if you think this is useful information, but I do because I’m a space geek.  Especially since Voyager is carrying a time capsule of our species and planet.

Now Voyager will be dead long before it gets there.  Will it gather interstellar ice and become a comet?  It’ll miss the star by about a light year and a half, but wouldn’t it be cool if it actually entered orbit with Gliese 445 as a comet?  Then the ice melts off and Voyager is reborn in orbit around a distant star.  If someone else did long ago and such a probe from a long-dead civilization orbited our star, would we know it was there?  Wouldn’t be cool if we found such a thing?  Maybe an advanced Interstellar species sends these things out for people like us to find once we’ve advanced to a certain level.  Maybe the probes carry the secrets to FTL flight or Interstellar communications or something.

I feel the scifi writer in me waking up…gotta go!

 

Voyager 1 Infographic from Space.com

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~ by Bill Housley on September 13, 2013.

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