The voyage of Voyager

In which we send a message to the stars.

Voyager space probe

Perhaps the greatest achievement in human history is the launching of the interstellar explorers, the Voyager probes. For a species that 100 years ago was taking it’s fist forays into the skies above our ability to rapidly advance the boundaries of our reach constantly amazes me.

NASA looked to a committee, chaired by the great Carl Sagan, to decide what elements of Earth and humanity should be placed on a golden record to be sent as a potential greeting to any other life that should happen to stumble upon a device that would be but a fleck of dust in the enormity of space. In fact it is so unlikely that anyone should stumble on voyage that Carl Sagan himself said:

The record is best seen as a time capsule or a symbolic statement more than a serious attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life.

In those heady days committees actually got things done without need to placate various interested parties and the op-eds in the media. So into the darkness we have sent greetings in 55 languages, details of our solar system and our DNA, music by Beethoven and Chuck Berry and scenes from our every day lives.

Can you imagine the difficulty we would have today trying to get a similarly representative disc launched?

For a start even getting a committee drawn up would be a nightmare, politicians would want to be involved which would automatically hinder the chances of anything productive and inclusive being produced. These are the same people who would rather see guns in schools than the expansion of human knowledge so to be able to come to a decision on what goes on a list would be beyond their capabilities.

Then we have the media, and let’s assume it’s NASA launching this probe, who will scrutinise every element of the message for any sign of ‘bias’ or ‘pandering to the socialists ad liberals’. If it is an American probe it will be an American message, the same as it would if Russia or China blasted this thing into space. It would not be a message from Earth it would be greetings from one of it’s fleeting states.

Military commanders would worry that we were giving away secrets that could lead to an invasion, religious groups would rail against the amount of science, and scientists would abhor any mention of faith. Imagine if Islam had any more space than Christianity? Fox News would have an aneurysm. It would become a muddle of messages diluted down to placate everyone but leaving nobody happy.

That is even if we could launch another Voyager programme.

Today we spend billions on bailing out failed institutions that create inequality and misery, because the people with the purse strings would rather not see their investments fail than exploring the universe. The Space programme and race contributed more to human civilisation than any bank ever did yet it is the first to get cut when times get tough.

So maybe the fact that we will never send another Golden Record into space is the perfect way to illustrate humanity in the early 21st Century.

Source: Voyage

Author: Daddysaurus

Ah, so you worked out the riddle. You just needed to use dwarfish and the doors to Geek Ergo Sum opened. Or perhaps you just used Google. Either way you are here, on my little corner of the Internet.

7 thoughts on “The voyage of Voyager”

  1. That’s it is the first craft to leave the “solar system” and broadcasts with the power of a lightbulb through outdated equipment below what a washing machine comes program with….Incredbile it keeps going.

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      1. Advancements in technology, never kept pace with practicality. Back in the dark days of the seventies and eighties,they actually thought it would be cool if it kept going because someone would look after it. Today we would plunge it into a moon to look at the crater.

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  2. I know most of you will be familiar with the recent Cosmos- a Space Time Odyssey series. I have to say that the way they explained the voyager’s journey into the endless darkness was simply kickass! Neil is a rock star!

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    1. There is something sad and poetic about voyager floating in the endless darkness. Apparently it only has another 9 years of operational life then it will be a glorified album cover drifting between stars.

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      1. Yes. It is sad to see it go but it is also kind of frightening to me. I imagine a man-made robot drifting in space, moving constantly in a direction opposite to home. All around it is nothingness. No sound, no air, no nothing. Just darkness. Being someone who is afraid to swim in a pool alone, the very thought of this piece of human creation floating alone out there gives me the shivers. Yet, it must have witnessed amazing sights during its journey. Things words cannot describe. Who knows? It might see beautiful things again someday!

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