As Voyager Exits Solar System, Sole Proof of Humanity a 70s Record

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“The voyagers are now the most distant man-made objects in space. And their journey will go on, literally, forever. They will probably be the only evidence that we ever existed.”

So heads off Penny Lane’s 2010 short film The Voyagers.

In the summer of 1977, NASA sent Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 on an epic journey into interstellar space. Each spacecraft carries a golden record album, a massive compilation of images and sounds embodying the best of Planet Earth.

Lane’s video is a wonderful love story grounded in the tale of Carl Sagan and his third wife Ann Druyan, and the Voyagers’ golden records.

And, given the most recent news from NASA, Voyager 1, (which even has its own Twitter feed) will breach the edge of the solar system any time now, virtually guaranteeing for the foreseeable future its survival as a sarcophagus for evidence that we once had the temerity to take over our home planet.

The Voyager 1 probe has entered a region of space with a markedly higher flow of charged particles from beyond our solar system, researchers said. Mission scientists suspect this increased flow indicates that the spacecraft — currently 11.1 billion miles (17.8 billion kilometers) from its home planet — may be poised to cross the boundary into interstellar space. reports

Technically, what the NASA scientists in charge of the Voyager probes are reporting is, among other things, an increasing detection of interstellar cosmic rays. At the edge of the solar system the inward flow of interstellar material—the shrapnel flying at us from distant supernova—is offset by the pressure of the outgoing solar wind. This region, known as the heliopause, marks the edge of the Sun’s reach. So, an upward tick in cosmic rays means that, at least at Voyager 1′s location, the interstellar gases are starting to win. Think of the following video, where the flamethrower is interstellar gas and the extinguisher is the solar wind.

Except, well, spacier.

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