How Far Has Voyager 1 Gotten?

The Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched in 1977, will have gotten only about one light-day away from Earth by 2050. Although this sounds extreme, Neptune, the furthest planet from Earth in the solar system, is only about 4.16 light-hours away. The Voyager 1 covers about 330 million miles every year.

More facts about the Voyager spacecraft:

  • The Voyager 1 and its sister craft, the Voyager 2, originally were intended to gather information about Jupiter and Saturn, but the mission was extended. Now the two spacecraft are traveling through the edge of the solar system, called the heliosheath, and are expected to pass into insterstellar space — the area between the solar system and other star systems in the galaxy — around 2015.

  • Each Voyager craft carries a disc called a "golden record," which is a gold-plated copper phonograph record containing greetings in a wide variety of languages, pictorial instructions for playing the record and a drawing of a hydrogen atom, among other things.

  • As of 2011, the Voyager 1 was the man-made object that was farthest from Earth, having passed the Pioneer 10 on 17 February 1998.
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Discussion Comments


Because human suffering is caused by other humans. Since we can attack scientific problems and solve them, we do. We cannot so easily "fix" a dictatorship or another abusive government. Besides, science problems don't fight back.

One rich foundation tried to buy condoms for Africa to stop population growth, but it turned out people had lots of kids because of high mortality, so the organization switched to giving out vaccines.

Often, we don't know the right approach to help others. Most of all, the wealthy persons who control the money do not really care about you or me any more than the T's in this sentence care about the I's. Spending billions on a fun project gives them satisfaction. Forfeiting their power and money to those without any? Not so much.


We have the ability to send spacecraft out into the vast region of interstellar space -- implying that we smart enough to create very sophisticated machines. Yet we are killing each other here at home at an alarming rate -- implying an abysmal lack of wisdom. We're so smart we can make unbelievably deadly weapons with which to do the killing.

It seems that we're very smart, but we lack the ability to make smart work for us instead of against us.

Why do we care about Voyager and not about the terrible state of our world right here? Who will know if that spacecraft is ever discovered by some alien intelligence? No one will know, that's who!

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