Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gene Roddenberry Called It

The science community has been buzzing of late about the Voyager probes' impending (did it already happen?) departure from the heliosphere. Launched 35 years ago, Voyager's primary mission was to visit the outer planets. The two craft performed flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune and for the last 23 years have continued along their trajectories toward the edge of the solar system. It looks like V'GER will become the first ship to leave our solar system and enter interstellar space.

If you're asking me what V-GER is, you're not a Trekkie. V'GER was the fictional Voyager 6 craft that appeared in Star Trek: The (Slow) Motion Picture (I'm still yawning) and wreaked all kinds of sci-fi havoc on the Klingons and the Federation. According to Kirk, its purpose was to transmit data back to Earth but eventually it disappeared into a black hole. The real Voyager crafts aren't headed for any black holes that we know of but they'll one day both leave the solar system. Who knows what they'll find. Preliminary data received from Voyager 1 as it navigates the heliosheath is already forcing astrophysicists to reevaluate some of their long-standing assumptions about the edge of the solar system and interstellar space.

BTW, I dig the poster for the upcoming Star Trek movie even though the Dark Knight influence is obvious.

1 comment:

seana graham said...

Two posts in short order! Glad to see back blogging.

I don't know a lot about Star Trek, though it does strike me that Roddenberry is due a lot of credit for sustaining our collective interest in space.