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From Where I Sit

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September 5, 2012
Jim Birchard
by: Jim Birchard

Honouring The Voyager

In a society where the latest and newest technology is idolized and worshiped like some form of deity, it's time to take a moment to honour some old technology that, after 35 years is still going strong, despite being exposed to some of the harshest conditions in the Universe.

It was 35 years ago today, that Voyager 1 was launched to go where no space probe has ever gone before.

At this very moment the workhouse spacecraft, which is about the size of a compact car, is about to cross the threshold of our solar system and enter the vast expanse of space between the stars.

It is moving beyond the milky way and what makes this event even more remarkable is that its 1977 technology is still functioning and the probe continues to send new information back to earth on a daily basis.

Voyager 1 is now about 11 billion miles away from our sun and it take 17 hours for a radio signal from the spacecraft to reach earth.

This little nuclear powered spacecraft really is a relic from the past as it has only 68 kilobytes of computer memory.

The smallest iPad, a 8 gigabyte iPod Nano is 100 thousand times more powerful.

But despite its technological limitations it continues to do its job and while the cameras that sent back photos of erupting volcanoes on Jupiter and the glittering rings of Saturn have been shut down, five other instruments are still operating studying the marvels of the cosmos.

I don't know if you remember the old Timex watch TV ads where the timepiece was put through various torture tests and the end line of each spot was that the Timex takes a licking but keeps on ticking.

The same can be said about this 35 year old probe that now is the longest operating spacecraft in history.

I'm Jim Birchard



From Where I Sit is on 560 CFOS Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 7:08 am and 5:08 pm

Posted: 2012-09-14 13:55:14

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