Perhaps because I was at just the right age when the Voyager probes were making their Grand Tour through our solar system, robotic space explorers have always had a special place in my heart. Call me odd (you wouldn’t be the first) but there is something romantic to me about the notion of these isolated pioneers faithfully doing their jobs so many millions — even billions — of miles away from home, in the loneliest places imaginable.
I’ve written before about Spirit and Opportunity (“As Mars mission ends, our yearning continues”). I was even moved by the moment in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (the surprisingly-boring-but-underrated 1979 movie, not the recent blockbuster) when it was revealed (spoiler alert) that the vast entity approaching earth was V’ger — an “evolved” Voyager probe who was simply trying to return home to its creator and complete its mission.
In this context, I was delighted to read today that Voyager 2 — launched in 1977 and now more than 8 billion miles from home — has made yet another new discovery. At the very edge of the solar system’s definable boundaries, far beyond the planets (it’s more than twice as far away from the Sun as dwarf planet Pluto), Voyager 2 is still discovering things that make us change our theories — answering some questions while causing us to ask new ones. You can read about the latest news here: “Near the Edge of the Solar System, Voyager 2 Finds Magnetic Fluff.”
I have a draft commentary I have struggled with on and off concerning the famous “pale blue dot” photograph taken by Voyager 2’s brother, Voyager 1, in it’s incredible “Family Portrait” mosaic, and I hope to finish it one day. But the news of this current discovery was heartening, and I thought I would pass it on in the event that any other Voyagerphiles out there might be interested.