Voyager 1, 35 Years into Its Journey

So the Voyager 1 spacecraft is just a little bit older than I am. I live 307 miles from where I grew up–the Voyager is over 11 billion miles from home. Kind of makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong.

The mission wasn’t originally intended to last this long, but as the project progressed it changed, got cut back, changed, grew, and changed some more. Not to push the metaphor too much, but that sounds like a very familiar path.

I’m a firm believer that everyone should spend some time away from home, preferably living somewhere else during a time in their life that isn’t college. (Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s beneficial to go away to college if you can afford it, but you experience a city differently if you are in school.) Maybe you’ll learn that you grew up someplace awesome and that you want to spend the rest of your life there. I learned that there were things I wanted to have in my everyday life that my hometown couldn’t give me. To each her own.

Distance is important in order to discover what’s important to you and give some perspective. That’s at the heart of one of Voyager’s well-known images, “Pale Blue Dot.” The photo was taken in 1990, when Voyager was 3.7 billion miles from Earth. While this image makes some people feel insignificant, I think of it as showing our place in the universe–sure, we’re small, but we’re here, and a part of the whole.

So, happy birthday to the Voyager 1’s mission, and keep on keepin’ on!

Sources/read more at:

NPR: After 35 Years, Voyager Nears Edge Of Solar System

Wikipedia: Voyager 1

Wikipedia: Pale Blue Dot

NASA: Jet Propulsion Laboratory Photojournal

Image Credit: NASA/JPL