Thursday, March 1, 2012

Voyager at the Edge of the Solar System

I recently listened to Radiolab's most recent episode titled "Escape" in which Ann Druyan and the Radio Lab hosts discuss NASA's Voyager probe, which is poised at the edge of the solar system. This little probe has caught my imagination. Nothing made by humans has ever gone so far; nothing we have made has ever left our star system. We don't really know what is out there. We don't know what it will be like.


And the information Voyager keeps sending us continues to surprise us. The solar wind stills and we think it has crossed over, but it hasn't...though it might any minute. And, as I recently wrote to Tina it makes me feel all excited and worried about this little spaceship all at once. She replied, "I know! Fly little space ship!!!"

There is something of us reaching out beyond any place we have ever reached before. It is beautiful and terrifying all at once...perhaps as we ourselves are beautiful and terrifying all at once...and maybe even as the universe itself. I keep thinking about the old maps of the world, drawn by European hands, who stopped speculating beyond the known world and simply wrote "There be Dragons!" And I wonder what Voyager will find...and if we will know.

Voyager once sent back a parting look at earth when it had reached Neptune. The image is a pale blue dot caught in beams of solar light. It is stunning in its smallness.


We are that small speck in an endless field, sending out such a tiny ambassador into the universe. And all I can think of is "Fly little space ship!!!"

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