16 light hours away, and going strong

Here is the modern ‘pale blue dot’ as taken by the Cassini spacecraft recently.

Pretty impressive that we can even make out the Earth in an image like this. The original ‘pale blue dot’ was part of an even more impressive mission, Voyager.

Voyager is now over 16 light hours from Earth – that is, it takes 16 hours for the signal from voyager to make it back to Earth. Last week one of the instrument team members came into my office and showed me data that had just arrived in. This data showed wild variations in the magnetic field, systematic of voyager leaving the Sun’s influence and moving into the no man’s land of space. It was amazing to see this first hand. The full story is on NPR, including clips from the famous golden record. Have a listen. 10 years from now there will be insufficient power to keep transmitting the signal back to Earth, but voyager will keep going. Forever a testament to Man’s ingenuity.