NASA's 35 Year Old Voyager Probe Amazingly Nears Edge of the Solar System (Updated)

[Update: Stephen was kind enough to point out that my DOS references are a couple of years too early (4 to be exact) but you know what I mean ;)]

A tweet from @pourmecoffee last week made me stop dead in my tracks:
Now how could I not click that link? Turns out it went to a Google News Search for Voyager Space Probe.

If you were a n00b back in the late 70s (like me), you might not be aware that NASA launched a probe into outer space way back then. Not only is it still alive and kicking, it's presently 17.8 BILLION kilometres away from earth, beaming information back on charged particles. And it's nearing the edge of the solar system. In fact, it's expected to leave the solar system at some point, although NASA can't be sure exactly when:
"The laws of physics say that someday Voyager will become the first human-made object to enter interstellar space, but we still do not know exactly when that someday will be," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "The latest data indicate that we are clearly in a new region where things are changing more quickly. It is very exciting. We are approaching the solar system's frontier."
It's incredible that something we made back when computers only ran DOS-like mainframe operating systems is hurtling through space. And that it is still beaming back data for scientists to evaluate and analyse. Think about that next time your smartphone craps out on your or you are faced with the BSOD on your work computer (because, let's face it, our home computers are more stable and powerful). Apparently 35 year old tech can kick this new tech's @ss. Who says newer is better?

Even better is the message Voyager 1 (and it's sibling Voyager 2, launched a few years later) is carrying for the aliens it might meet along the way:
a phonograph record and 12-inch gold-plated copper disk with sounds and images of life and culture on Earth selected by a group chaired by the famous space scientist Carl Sagan. (Via Reuters)
Can you imagine? Grainy Polaroids of scientists in tight pants and turtlenecks working computers with tiny displays, running DOS. The aliens won't even bother communicating with us; once they're done laughing they'll just blow the place up.

If you want to know more about the marvel that is Voyager, check out NASA's Voyager mission site.

Illustration of Voyager Space Probe
Credit: NASA
(Source: @pourmecoffee)

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