We have now sent something man-made beyond the reaches of our solar system.
35 years ago Voyager 1 was launched with the intention of exploring the major planets. The then US President, Jimmy Carter, said;
“This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings,”
Using the sling-shot method of propulsion (using the gravity pull of each planet in turn to gain momentum) no-one expected the small craft to keep on going. But it did. It has now travelled 11 billion miles, trailed at 9 billion miles by its successor, Voyager 2.
Voyager 1 has entered interstellar space- the first man-made object to do so. It is now heading towards another sun; star AC+793888. But it won’t reach it. In 15 years Voyager 1’s plutonium generator will cease producing electricity and its transmitter will stop functioning.
But as we wave goodbye to this intrepid little craft, there is always the possibility that it will be found by alien intelligence, and if they recognise and understand the symbols and information contained on and in the craft, then we may get an outer space hello from them. Either that or we’ll be invaded. Hmmm- was it wise to indicate on the craft exactly where it originated from? Time will tell…