The Voyager Lie

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The Voyager Lie

The two Voyager space probes are truly on an epic journey. They are far from our shores and heading out into the final frontier. 1977 was the year Elvis died, Star wars hit the cinemas and Jimmy Carter became president of the US. And it was the year the greatest adventure in unmanned spaceflight took place.

NASA's main purpose for the Voyager probes was to explore the four major planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune) of our Solar System. To achieve that goal they had a window of opportunity to launch the probes in 1977. Launching that year would enable the probes to 'sling-shot' from planet to planet using the gravity of these giant planets to pick up enough speed to overcome the Sun's gravity and eventually leave the Solar System. The 1977 window was vital as the four planets would be favourably positioned in the same region of the Solar System over the next 12 years. The next time that fortunate situation would arise would be the year AD 2153! So the pressure was on at NASA.

And well done to Nasa, another awesome achievement. And the Voyager probes were destined to make inspirational discoveries including volcanic eruptions on Io (one of Juipters' many moons), rings around each of the four major planets, and a massive earth-sized storm on the blue planet Neptune. And amongst the thousands of images sent back to us surely the most thought provoking is 'Pale Blue Dot'. As Voyager 1 was above the plane of the Solar System and speeding away from us at a distance of 3.7 Billion miles, Scientists, and Carl Sagan in particular wanted Voyager to look back at the Solar System and take images of the planets. The earth is seen as a pale blue dot, showing it's insignificance in the cosmos and at the same time highlighting it's importance and it's fragility and how much we should churish it.

Pale Blue Dot

Voyager 1 is the farthest human-made object from Earth. It is currently (Jan 08) just under 10 billion miles from Earth and travelling at about 50,000 miles per hour. It is of course carrying Bacteria from Earth to the stars. Can Bacteria survive in interstellar space? Probably, but that's another story.

In about 40,000 years, Voyager 1 will drift within 1.6 light years of AC+79 3888, a star in the constellation of Ophiuchus. (I presume we will send other craft to catch up with it and pass it out long before that).

We sent these spaceships to seek out new civilizations and we depicted a beautiful picture of life on Earth. Thet carry a snapshot of humanity - information about a mythical planet called Earth - where we all live in peace and harmony with one another. On Voyager we put the best of our culture, science, art, and music. But we neglected to mention wars, genocide, massacres, destruction of species and environments, trampling of human rights, tolerated human misery and the social injustice that pervades our species like poverty, famine, etc, etc, etc.

Worldwide people take their last breath in miserable, deplorable conditions and yet nobody seems to care. We accept death with indifference, without dejection, at least when it happens in a distant land. Remote death seen on our TVs hardly arouses our interest, barely registers as news, at least not worthy news.

We have capacity for love and respect. Yet we seem immune and unaffected to others poverty, famine, hardship, even in our daily lives and immediate vicinity. And perhaps we take some sort of solace whether subconsciously or consciously if these hardships are further afield. Our value on life is a contradiction. Like our value on the environment and of other species.

"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. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours." - Jimmy Carter.

Above is a quote contained in Voyager. It's a message in a bottle and maybe someday these words will act as a trap, a lure for some far away civilization that we can tempt to Earth and one day destroy their fabric and bring them down to our moral level and impose our low values on them.

This video from the late great Carl Sagan should be shown to every world leader, every person with power, every child in school, every person on our planet?