Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

Voyager 1 is officially in interstellar space.

This is so much more than a neat factoid found on page 6 of tomorrow's paper; this is a profound accomplishment of humanity.

If there is one trait that can be said to define humans, in every period of history and geographic location, it is that we are deeply and innately curious. We are driven to explore all that we can, in both a physical and epistemic sense. We owe all that we have and all that we are to the fruitful results of our inquisitive endeavours. And although the inertia of modern comforts may squelch this urge to some extent, it can never fully extinguish it.

We should duly celebrate when new frontiers are reached as a triumph, not just of individuals, but of our species. This, the emancipation of the first human-made object from our solar system, is a truly extraordinary feat that underscores the very best characteristics of humanity; collaboration, ingenuity and curiosity.

As is becoming rather cliché for people that know me, I'll leave with a few quotes from Carl Sagan (Pale Blue Dot):

"Each Voyager is itself a message. In their exploratory intent, in the lofty ambition of their objectives, in their utter lack of intent to do harm, and in the brilliance of their design and performance, these robots speak eloquently for us."

"In five billion years [estimated life span of the Voyager spacecraft], all humans will have become extinct or evolved into other beings, none of our artifacts will have survived on Earth, the continents will have become unrecognizably altered or destroyed, and the evolution of the Sun will have burned the Earth to a crisp or reduced it to a whirl of atoms. Far from home, untouched by these remote events, the Voyagers, bearing the memories of a world that is no more, will fly on."

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

That is an achievement that we should be proud of. Thanks for the notification rconnor!

Kinda like landing a person on the moon. http://xkcd.com/893/

Too bad we don't do stuff like that any more... sad

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

I heard a little bit about that last night, when you think of what this accomplishment means, it's completely stunning. Something like 40,000 years before it reaches the next star. Hard to even comprehend.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

If there is no one there to recieve it, will it just burn up in a star, or burn up on plantery entry? Nice try but we should only count what Veger provided to us (data).

We should also rejoice that the power supply, computer, and other parts have continued to perform as they have. Without which we have done little more than thrown a rock.

The little 1802 microprocessor that could. And I recall being told that chip will never acomplish much, that I would be better off looking at the 8086 processor.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

The distance and the years it took to get "only" that far makes one feel kind of small. Momentous occasion.

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

I think the history of the Voyager probes is a testimony to engineering at its finest. From the conception, when the prospect of visiting planets past the originally designed Jupiter and Saturn encounters was realized, to the re-programming of the thruster control algorithms to control the slew of the spacecraft and keep the cameras focused in the right direction after the rotary bearings locked up, to the latest plasma numbers that came from analysing data from another measurement device because the primary probe was dead. And all possible because there are some engineers that keep tinkering with the systems that are left working, to figure out creative new ways to utilize them.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

When will it return? And will it hit us?

- Steve

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

You haven't seen the movie of it's return? Where have you been hiding?

It's in the SciFi section with the movie about the Mars women.

The question I have now is how much longer will it be transmitting (waving bye), and does it have anything new to send us?

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

Note that the power source for Voyagers 1 and 2 is a so-called 'atomic battery'...


... which is powered by an isotope of Plutonium (which seems appropriate considering where it has been recently) with a half-life of about 90 years. So baring a catastrophic failure, it should be good for many more years.

As for what sort of "new" information might it send us in the future, I would guess that ANYTHING that it sent would be considered as 'new' since it's now where we know very little at all as to what's happening locally. I suspect that any sort of change in readings will be studied for years as to what it might indicate and even if nothing truly unusual is found, that alone would be information that could be telling us something that we didn't know.

And don't forget, even after the last sub-atomic particle gives-up the ghost, the Voyagers will still have the potential to send ONE more monumental message, one that we may never hear about the consequences of but which could totally change the way another civilization looks at itself and the world around it. After all, what would happen here on our little 'blue marble' if we were to encounter something passing through our solarsystem which included something like:

and on the flip-side:


John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

Play frisbee with the dog?

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

Translated like the Karmasutra into some eratic guide book. Or a free lunch map.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

The 1802 was also a CMOS processor, and less like a TTL, so it had a smaller power consumption, and did not require set clock frequency. Which was my interest at the time, that the processing could be suspended to reduce power consumption.

I might still have one, but it might not work after all these years.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

Great we are now litterers of interstellar space. I hope the penalty is going to be reasonable.

Garth Dreger PE - AZ Phoenix area
As EOR's we should take the responsibility to design our structures to support the components we allow in our design per that industry standards.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

The Vogons might just have to bulldoze our planet. At least we don't have to lisen to there potery.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

nobody said it did, but it did reach interstellar space

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

Thanks for the replies everyone! I was getting a little discouraged trying to describe the significance of this event to others (even scientifically educated people) and being met with blank stares or “so what?” replies. It was stuffed in the bottom corner (literally) of page 12 in my local paper. For reference, the front page story was about the goalie for our city's hockey team doing community outreach in the off-season, which could possibly be court ordered due to his recent DUI. Needless to say, the responses here were a breath of fresh air, thanks again.

SMIAH - Correct, it’s not 100% accurate to say it has left our solar system but it is in interstellar space (you’ll have to excuse some of the poetic liberties I took in my opening remarks). The difference is interstellar space begins once the heliopause is passed (the boundary of the Sun’s magnetic influence) but the solar system, strictly speaking, does not end until you pass the Sun’s field of gravitation influence (which it won’t pass for a LONG time). However, as the importance of the event is more about entering a new frontier (which we certainly have) and not leaving a known one, it doesn’t diminish the significance. This, to me, is key.

Fun Fact about the Golden Record: Sagan wanted to use the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”, which the Beatles agreed to. However, because they didn’t own the rights to their songs and the process of getting EMI to release them were too time consuming, it was not included.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

Would it matter? After all it would be like us lissening to the other language radio station, noise, but no meaning.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

"Would it matter? After all it would be like us lissening to the other language radio station, noise, but no meaning."

That's what I think when I listen to my kids' music.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

It would be interesting to give a copy of the disk to a group of grad students that maybe haddn't see any of the descriptions of what's on it to see if they could decode it's contents.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice however, experience suggests that in practice, there is!

My posts reflect my personal views and are not in any way endorsed or approved by any organization I'm affiliated with.

RE: Voyager 1 is Officially in Interstellar Space

Why grad students, why not freshmen?

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close