“We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.”
One of PBS’ latest documentary films, The Farthest is a history of the two Voyager robotic probes launched by NASA in 1977. Their principal joint mission was to undertake a tour of the outer planets in our solar system: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. However, scientists knew that both machines could leave our solar system, and that this opportunity couldn’t be missed.
Led by the efforts of Dr. Carl Sagan (among others), and in the vain of the plaque on Pioneer 10, a message was included on both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 in the form of a phonograph record known as the Voyager Golden Record. A standard LP record that was recorded onto metal to ensure its survival into space, the Golden Record contains two hours of data, including an eclectic mix of music, natural sounds and spoken greetings from various countries and cultures around the world.
While their primary mission was completed in 1989, culminating in the famous “Pale Blue Dot” photo of Earth from over 6 billion miles away, both probes have since left our solar system and are exploring interstellar space, traveling farther every day while still sending faint signals back to us here at home. The film provides great insight into the mission via interviews with the men and women responsible for building and maintaining both Voyager probes all these many years. Highly recommended.