Sep 17th 2013 Class Reunion
To paraphrase Yosemite Sam, “By golly! Th’ critter went and done it!” Since we visited last, mavens at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, after months of back-and-forth deliberation, have decided that Voyager I, launched in 1977, has left our solar system, the only manmade object ever to do so. They equivocated, because the question had never come up: how do you know when something has left the solar system? Yes, it’s more space talk, but this really is a big deal, don’t you think? I do. I think in terms of achievement, it’s right up there with the moon landings. I just wish we could have seen it on television, Voyager waving goodbye as it messaged back, “One giant step, no matter how you slice it!” Unfortunately, this will, in effect, be the end for the hard-working spacecraft. It will continue to sniff the void around it for a few more years, it is hoped, and send information back to its skeleton crew at the JPL, but it’s going to be a long way to the next tourist attraction. Voyager I isn’t likely to generate many more headlines. The next thing most of us read about it will be a tiny obituary when it finally loses touch with earth. We should all wish it, “God’s speed!” It’s going to need it.