Thursday, September 12, 2013

Voyager Has Left the Building

According to people who know such things, Voyager 1 spacecraft,  launched in 1977, has left our solar system. There are many things about this feat to be amazed over.  It's the first man made thing to ever leave our solar system. Its on board memory capacity is measured in double digit kilobytes, which is about equivalent to the memory capacity of a cotton ball. And it has a gold plated record, as in phonograph, with a bunch of stuff people in 1977 thought aliens should know about human beings.

All that amazement aside, it is the distances involved with space travel that continually surprise me no matter how many times I rediscover them.  Voyager 1 transmits information back to earth as it travels. At its current location that information, which is beamed within radio waves that travel at 186,000 miles per second, takes 17 hours to reach earth.  There are an awful lot of seconds in 17 hours.  The other shocking item is the fact Voyager 1 will travel for 40,000 years before reaching the nearest star.

When I get all caught up being impressed with Formula 1 race cars, I need to pause and give a nod to space travel.