Voyager 1 is about to leave our Solar System

‘It’s a mysterious world, and I’m a curious man,’ is as close as I come to having a motto in life. It’s a corny line from a corny sit-com, but it does the job. Nevertheless…

I don’t understand space. I couldn’t explain the difference between a universe and a galaxy and I think it’s silly that a light year is a unit of distance. But I liked that the Voyager 1 spacecraft is (in cosmic terms) about to become the first man-made object to cross into interstellar space.

voyager

Voyager 1 was launched in 1977. Are we there yet? No, but it’s already travelled 18.5 billion kilometres (average speed 60,000 km/h), so we must be close. It looks like a mosquito.

Interstellar space, that stuff beyond our sun’s domain, is very impressive, but it would still take Voyager 1 another 40,000 years to reach the next star. So, what’s the point?

Philosophically, the point is it’s there and we can. For the rest it’s ‘Because it might…’ and ‘Because potentially…’ because we don’t actually know what Voyager 1 will find or how it could be useful. But that’s what exploring is, and we don’t do enough of it these days.

This world is indeed mysterious, but the real curiosity junkies look up instead of around.

More on Voyager 1 from Wikipedia

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