Voyager 1 has recently entered interstellar space, take a moment to pause and think about it, it will leave you inspired.
Yesterday my daughter and I watched episode 6 of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos,“Travellers’ Tales” (watch it for free at Hulu). One of my favorite chapters of Cosmos, it pulls together stories of Earth’s early explorers and the team at NASA who were working on Voyager. Brit Mandelo wrote a great description of the episode:
“We have travelled this way before, and there is much to be learned by studying those great voyages of a few centuries ago.”—This is the guiding sentiment of “Travellers’ Tales.” It’s a literary sentiment, the idea that stories structure our world, and that stories are the commodity that we gain from exploration then bring back to trade amongst ourselves. The juxtaposition of stories—the 17th century Dutch scientific and exploratory culture with the late 70’s narratives of the Voyager spacecrafts—allows us, in a metonymic way, to understand a piece of human nature that Sagan seems to be arguing holds us together as a species.
Brooks Barnes, at The New York Times, wrote “In a Breathtaking First, NASA’s Voyager 1 Exits the Solar System”:
Even among planetary scientists, who tend to dream large, the idea that something they built could travel beyond the Sun’s empire and keep grinding away is impressive. Plenty of telescopes gaze at the far parts of the Milky Way, but Voyager 1 can now touch and feel the cold, unexplored region in between the stars and send back detailed dispatches about conditions there
The New York Times piece quotes Suzanne Dodd, one of the original engineers on the project and who is now Voyager Project Manager.