An Indian Civilizational Perspective

The Farthest Man-made object was launched 30 years ago today!

Voyager I was launched on September 5 in 1977. It is the farthest man-made object to Earth.

The Voyager 1 spacecraft is a 733-kilogram robotic space probe of the outer solar system and beyond, launched September 5, 1977, and is currently operational. It visited Jupiter and Saturn and was the first probe to provide detailed images of the moons of these planets.

Voyager 1 is the farthest man-made object from Earth, traveling away from both the Earth and the Sun at a relatively faster speed than any other probe. Though its sister-craft, Voyager 2, was launched 1 month earlier, Voyager 2 will never pass Voyager 1. Neither will the New Horizons mission to Pluto, despite being launched from Earth at a faster speed than both Voyager craft. During its lifetime Voyager 1 has benefited from a number of gravity assisted speed boosts.[1]

As of July 6, 2007, Voyager 1 is over 15.44 terameters (15.44×1012 meters, or 15.44×109 km, 103.2 AU, or 9.6 billion miles) from the Sun, and has thus entered the heliosheath, the termination shock region between the solar system and interstellar space, a vast area where the Sun’s influence gives way to the other bodies in the galaxy. If Voyager 1 is still functioning when it finally passes the heliopause, scientists will get their first direct measurements of the conditions in the interstellar medium.

Currently, light take 13.8 hours to reach Earth. How far is that?

As a basis for comparison, the Moon is about 1.4 light seconds from Earth, the Sun is about 8.5 light minutes away, and Pluto is at an average distance of approximately 5.5 light hours. As of November 2005, the spacecraft was traveling at a speed of 17.2 kilometers per second relative to the sun (3.6 AU per year or 38,400 miles per hour), 10% faster than Voyager 2.

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