Space, Voyager's Frontier

By Douglas Clark

Unless you’ve been hiding under an asteroid lately, you probably read or heard that Voyager 1, the venerable space probe sent out by NASA in 1977, has ‘officially’ left the solar system. Now let me start off by saying I’m a space nut. I love Astronomy, mapping the stars, learning about the Universe and every strange and amazing thing in it. As a kid I watched TV shows like Star Trek, Buck Rodgers, Battlestar Galactica, and Lost in Space reruns enjoying every minute of it. Also, secretly wishing everything in those shows could happen or were possible. As I got older, I realized watching those shows expanded my imagination and creative horizons. They taught me that just because something isn’t possible today, doesn’t mean it can’t come true in the future. I always look to the future with a strong sense of wonder and hope. To me, the future represents a time where things are better, problems are solved, and knowledge is gained, accomplishments earned, and there’s some pretty kick ass Sci-Fi technology to scoot us around the cosmos.

Okay, so let’s get back to Voyager. It’s a space probe about the size of a small car and it’s all alone in the vastness of outer space, just on the edge of what we might call our neighborhood. From NASA’s most recent report, it’s about 11 billion miles away. A stone’s throw in galactic terms, but to us humans that’s more distance than any other manmade object has ever traveled. Now Voyager 2 is only a few billion miles behind, but still. The thought of that little craft, a fragile mechanical messenger, flying through space to a fate unknown is mesmerizing. Think of it. I’ve imagined hitching a ride on that craft and experiencing a bit of its journey. Putting aside for a moment the logistics of actually floating along with the thing, just to experience for a brief second the wonders that craft will endure is truly breathtaking.

The Earth is our home and yet, nature finds a way to erase evidence of our existence. Though we may try to fight it off, erosion is inevitable. But, in the distant future, thousands of years after our civilization has morphed and changed into something wholly unrecognizable, or vanished completely from this world, Voyager will still be journeying out among the stars. Barring any strange or freak occurrence like a collision with some rogue asteroid or something, it will persist. Our legacy to the universe, our infinitesimally small yet distinct contribution proving that we existed will continue on to points unknown. If that’s not enough to inspire a bit of awe and wonder in your mind, you might want to check your pulse. For me, it’s fascinating without end, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.



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