The Voyager twins: weak signals and discovery from the depths of space

Artist’s concept of Voyager I (Source: NASA)

Yesterday, while listening to the BBC World Service, I heard this fascinating documentary focusing on the Voyager I and II spacecraft. It absolutely blows my mind that both of these spacecraft have been operating for 40 years and continue to send signals back to Earth. Talk about weak signal DX!

Note that you will have to visit the BBC World Service website to listen to the documentary via their media player.

(Source: BBC World Service)

Voyager 1 and 2: Still operating after 40 years in the depths of space. Voyager 1 is currently some 20 billion kilometres from Earth travelling at 15.5 kilometres a second. It takes 19 hours for a signal from the spacecraft’s 20 watt transmitter to reach home. Voyager 2 is 17 billion kilometres away and will soon leave the Solar System.

Launched in 1977, the twin spacecrafts have explored the giant planets and their strange moons, investigated the boundary of the Solar System and changed how we see our place in the Universe. The probes even carry a message for aliens in the form of a golden record.

Retired NASA astronaut Ron Garan meets many of the original team still working on the mission, nursing the twin spacecraft through their final years.

Click here to listen to the documentary via the BBC World Service website.

3 thoughts on “The Voyager twins: weak signals and discovery from the depths of space

  1. DL4NO

    I listened to that feature, too. Highly recommended!

    Another achievement: After 40 years they can still communicate with that “outdated” technology! That was years before the first IBM PC…

  2. RonF

    “The Farthest” is definitely worth watching. I’m old enough to vaguely remember the launches as a kid, avidly watched Sagan’s “Cosmos” as a teen, etc – and it sent little shivers down my spine (it aired here as a 2-parter in the last week or so).


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