Happy Birthday VOYAGER!

From NASA (and remember that Pres. Obama has killed the manned space program… just another reason to vote against him):

August 20, 2012

Thirty-five years ago today, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft, the first Voyager spacecraft to launch, departed on a journey that would make it the only spacecraft to visit Uranus and Neptune and the longest-operating NASA spacecraft ever. Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, that launched 16 days later on Sept. 5, 1977, are still going strong, hurtling away from our sun. Mission managers are eagerly anticipating the day when they break on through to the other side – the space between stars.

[...]

Voyager 2 became the longest-operating spacecraft on Aug. 13, 2012, surpassing Pioneer 6, which launched on Dec. 16, 1965, and sent its last signal back to NASA’s Deep Space Network on Dec. 8, 2000. (It operated for 12,758 days.)

[...]

Voyager 2 is about 9 billion miles (15 billion kilometers) away from the sun, heading in a southerly direction. Voyager 1 is about 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) away from the sun, heading in a northerly direction. For the last five years, both spacecraft have been exploring the outer layer of the heliosphere, the giant bubble of charged particles the sun blows around itself.

We continue to listen to Voyager 1 and 2 nearly every day,” said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “The two spacecraft are in great shape for having flown through Jupiter’s dangerous radiation environment and having to endure the chill of being so far away from our sun.”

Dodd and her team have been carefully managing the use of power from the continually diminishing energy sources on the two spacecraft. They estimate that the two spacecraft will have enough electrical power to continue collecting data and communicating it back to Earth through 2020, and possibly through 2025. While no one really knows how long it will take to get to interstellar space, Voyager scientists think we don’t have long to wait. And, besides, the first 35 years have already been a grand ride.

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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22 Responses to Happy Birthday VOYAGER!

  1. PostCatholic says:

    Out of curiosity more than anything else, but which manned space program do you want to see revived?

  2. RichR says:

    Happy Birthday to the only satellite to star in a movie opposite William Shatner.

  3. frjim4321 says:

    That is wonderful news, but “and remember that Pres. Obama has killed the manned space program… just another reason to vote against him” seems well off point because in fact Voyager was not “manned” (sic). I was a Sputnik baby, a space age baby who turned my sainted Mother’s living room into Mission Control, drew space rockets and space planes on my first grade desk (to the chagrin of Sister Marie Jose, CSJ,) and ultimately became a pilot myself. I really don’t understand why the fantastic Voyager would cause me to change my vote in November.

  4. frjim4321 says: I really don’t understand why the fantastic Voyager would cause me to change my vote in November.

    We’ll will just add this one to the list of the many things you don’t understand. o{];¬)

  5. Clinton says:

    As I understand it, not only is our manned space program gone, but the funds for the Mars
    rover program has been cut 40%. The awful thing is, even if funding were restored in the
    future, the brains that make the programs possible will have been scattered. Reviving the
    program won’t be a matter of simply restoring funding– personnel will have to be relocated and
    lured back, and new folks found and trained. It will take years just to get back to where we were.

    As for November, I agree with frjim4321– the gutting of our space program won’t cause me
    to change my vote in November, either. However, I suspect our votes will be very different…

  6. PostCatholic says:

    The great discoveries right now seem to be from the unmanned programs, particularly the “telescopes.”

    I’m actually more bummed out by the cuts to our National Park Service. The backlog of capital improvement is really sad.

  7. Will D. says:

    Killed the manned space program? Oh, boy. Joseph Acaba and Sunita Williams, currently aboard the International Space Station, will be unhappy to hear that.
    Much as it pains me to agree with Fr. Jim and PC, the probes we’ve sent out are doing far better science at a much more reasonable price than any manned spaceflight has done since Apollo 17 came home. And in any case, the US is developing both government funded and privately funded manned vehicles. Was there the same wailing and gnashing of teeth between the end of Gemini and Apollo (2 years), or between Apollo/Soyuz and the STS program (6 years)?
    I’m a rock-ribbed Republican, and a huge proponent of Space Exploration, but right now, I’d rather stick to the excellent unmanned programs we have until we put ourselves on a more sustainable fiscal trajectory. If the federal budget implodes Greek-style, we won’t be able to put a grasshopper into orbit.

  8. Clinton says:

    Will D, I very much agree that our federal government must budget sustainably– heck,
    I’d be delighted if it’d budget at all, as we haven’t had one passed by congress in over three
    years. But this president has moved to scrap our partnership with the EU to send probes to
    Mars in 2016 and 2018. Budget cuts have retired the entire US space shuttle fleet many
    missions before its designed flight lifespan ends. Our astronauts can now only get to and
    from the manned space station if the Russians rent us a seat on one of their rockets. And the
    planetary science program Post Catholic so rightly admires? It is to be cut from $1.5 billion to
    $1.2 billion. That will cripple the program, and what makes it especially galling to me is that
    the $300 million cut that guts a fine program is nothing to Obama– he flushed twice as much
    down the toilet in the Solyndra scandal.

    The Chinese intend to have a moon landing by 2020. Meanwhile, our space program is having
    to scrap programs that have been years in the making, and disperse talent it took a generation
    to assemble. It astonishes me that, with all the cash this administration has squandered in the
    past four years, it has decided to eviscerate a program like NASA. It is a prodigious waste in the
    name of economy.

    We shall probably never regain our leadership in space exploration. However, I’m pretty
    sure that if we ask nicely the Chinese and the Russians will share their data and continue to
    give us lifts. Maybe.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    Thanks for the science posts. We must keep up all the space programs. Exploration is part of being human, and being made in the Image and Likeness of God, Who lets us share in His Creativity.

  10. JonPatrick says:

    While it is true that unmanned probes can do a lot of exploration in a cost effective way, there is no substitute for humans setting foot on the planets. It bothers me how much fretting there is over relatively small amounts in the federal budget for programs such as space, Amtrak, national parks, etc. while the biggies (Medicare and other entitlements) are considered political “third rails” and cannot be discussed.

  11. chironomo says:

    Reviving the program won’t be a matter of simply restoring funding– personnel will have to be relocated and lured back, and new folks found and trained. It will take years just to get back to where we were

    Assuming, of course that other countries like China and Russia have not offered them better deals for their services. There are only so many jobs out there for high level aerospace engineers. I imagine as soon as the cuts were announced, the job-shopping started.

  12. MarylandBill says:

    Not that I want to defend Obama, because I don’t, but the decision to end the Shuttle Program was made during the Bush administration and it was made as much for safety reasons as for cost reasons. Two lost orbiters in 135 flights was not a very good safety record and by the end of the Shuttle Program, the engineers knew there was no way to make the Shuttle safe.

    Hopefully SpaceX and several other private enterprises can make manned space flight a reality again. Yes, the robots on Mars are great, but I bet a trained geologist and a trained bioligist with proper laboratories could do more in a month than a century of robots could.

  13. chcrix says:

    If you reference the Wikipedia article on the Pioneer program it appears that it is not so much that Pioneer 6 stopped operation as that the last time that NASA attempted to contact it was the year 2000. It may still be operational. So may Pioneers 7 and 8. Only 9 is KNOWN to have failed. Presumably, contact is not maintained because the data sent by these venerable chaps is no longer worth the effort, or has been superseded by more up-to-date platforms.

    To make successful space efforts it will be necessary to harness the best in innovation – which honestly I don’t think can come from a large bureaucracy. Especially one as compromised as NASA has become (think James Hansen). Perhaps “prizes” for certain achievements would be a superior method?

  14. I hope that soon to be president Romney will restore all of these programs to a healthy steady budget level.

    In the early 60′s when President Kennedy was of two minds on whether to shoot for the moon, then VP Johnson won the argument by simply saying “Mr President, America cannot afford to be second best”. That still holds true today.

  15. jmgazzoli says:

    We need to cancel the space program now before Voyager absorbs all the knowledge in the universe and returns to threaten our very e existence!!’

  16. Clinton: “As for November, I agree with frjim4321– the gutting of our space program won’t cause me to change my vote in November, either. However, I suspect our votes will be very different”

    Surely you are not suggesting the possibility that a Catholic priest might actually vote for a pro-abortion presidential candidate. Or do I mistake your meaning?

  17. Cathy says:

    Why is it necessary? If you dream about going to space, fine! You won’t have that opportunity here. If you dream about being a doctor who heals, fine! But, unless you are also willing to kill, you won’t have that opportunity here. If you want to have a family, (mom and dad) and children, fine! But unless you allow the state to claim any body of persons who are offended by that to have equal recognition of what they want to be called their family, you won’t have that opportunity here. You didn’t build that, means its not yours, therefore, it can and possibly must be destroyed. No child left behind means equality, and, therefore, no child can be seen to excel. The USA must be reduced to the common denominator of a third world country in order to appreciate the advancement of its betters, Russia, China and Saudi Arabia, and it must rely on the kindness of these strangers. Through the expansion of “rights” we will contract the moral imagination until every soul is made to feel equal, equally hopeless. And, if hope springs, we will necessarily tax it, then round it up, starve it, torture it and command it to be put to death, and the justices will have their say, you voted for it, look to it yourselves.

  18. Clinton says:

    Henry Edwards: “Surely you are not suggesting…”

    Oh Mr. Edwards, we edge toward a rabbit hole, I believe.

  19. Cantor says:

    Obama inherited a program that is hideously unrealistic in its budget planning at a time that people have hinted they’re actually interested in watching the bottom line. He’s done the regrettably necessary so far.

    The last president who knew how to manage successful research was Thomas Jefferson. He sent out two lieutenants and about 50 others to explore routes to the Pacific. When they returned two years later they published their report and the West was opened to exploration, exploitation and settlement by the citizenry. People died, wagons were lost, fortunes were made and squandered, but all by individuals, not a bloated government bureaucracy.

    That’s supposed to be the American Way.

  20. MarylandBill says:

    So the one place Obama actually watched the bottom line was at NASA?

    We need to cut spending.. what about Planned Parenthood? Can’t have that, lets cut NASA’s budget… its not like they pushed the development of computers or anything….

  21. Charivari Rob says:

    “We need to cancel the space program now before Voyager absorbs all the knowledge in the universe and returns to threaten our very e existence!!”

    That was Voyager 6, and it won’t happen for at least 262 years.

    Besides, pound for pound, Nomad was much more dangerous. The Sugar Ray Robinson of the identity-confused hybrid space probe set.

  22. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Hmmm…. brings back memories of Star Trek I and “‘V’ Ger”