back to article NASA builds for keeps: Voyager mission still going after 45 years

The most distant human-made objects, Voyager 1 and 2, are still cruising in interstellar space, more than 12 billion miles from Earth, as NASA today celebrates the 45th year of its longest-operating mission. Launched in 1977, both spacecraft were sent to explore the outer planets of the solar system. Voyager 2 was the first to …

  1. NapTime ForTruth

    Spacetime

    Once we engaged in such great things, such hopeful and far-reaching efforts that required us to think beyond ourselves, beyond our brief moment in time. We looked with optimism toward futures we would never see but that we might begin to build, perhaps to inform or guide our successors in any possible tomorrows.

    In the current era we've set a discarded used car adrift in space.

    How the mighty have fallen.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: Spacetime

      Or would you have preferred the concrete block usually used in such test flights?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Spacetime

        It would have been more modest. When the selection of sound effects was being considered someone suggested one of the Bach unaccompanied violin pieces. Carl Sagan's reaction was "No, that would be boasting.".

        1. dizwell

          Re: Spacetime

          Bzzt. Incorrect answer.

          It was biologist (and physician, poet, essayist) Lewis R. Thomas, not Carl Sagan. When asked what message he would choose to send into outer space in the Voyager spacecraft, he said: “I would send the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach … but that would be boasting.”

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Spacetime

      Spaceflight: Once, we dared. Now, we simply reminisce.

      -- Michael Wulff

      However, SpaceX is actually pushing the envelope.

      The problem with NASA is they're a publicly funded government agency. Pretty much anything they do, they get shit on, so they don't do anything. I've watched it... they want to go to Mars, they get shit on for not wanting to go to the Moon. They want to go to the Moon, they get shit on for not wanting to go to Mars. They develop a new spacesuit, they get shit on for it "not looking right"

      Edit: and they ALWAYS get shit on for spending money on space and research, instead of spending it on helping the poor.

      So now NASA is basically a jobs program.

      Musk has the freedom and money to do what he wants, and public opinion is irrelevant.

      (Edit: and sod off BBC. NASA and other acronyms are all upper case, you illiterate artiste morons. I shall start calling you the Bbc)

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Spacetime

        > Pretty much anything they do, they get shit on

        That's unfortunately true, NASA is always wrong, whatever they do (or don't do).

        Most people don't even know what the "National Aeronautics and Space Administration" does, besides doing it wrong. Yes, they run the civil space program, but not only, the clue is in the name.

        1. RegGuy1 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Spacetime

          Well europa.nasa.gov is going up on a Falcon Heavy in 2024. That's very clearly the correct thing to do.

          A beer for Nasa[1], for doing the correct thing. --------------->

          [1] Or is it NASA? :-)

          1. Potemkine! Silver badge

            Re: Spacetime

            That will be an exciting mission.

            I've recently seen a documentary on French TV, named the "NASA's 10 Greatest Achievements". NASA still makes us dream - No man is a prophet in his own land!

      2. RobThBay

        Re: Spacetime

        Bbc... great idea!

      3. Irony Deficient Silver badge

        NASA and other acronyms are all upper case, you illiterate artiste morons.

        NASA (and other acronyms) and BBC (and other initialisms) should be in small caps, but it seems that only moronic enthusiasts of typography (like myself) remember this — hence my request for small caps support for commentard use at El Reg.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: NASA and other acronyms are all upper case, you illiterate artiste morons.

          Small caps? Pffft, be grateful that unlike Slashdot, El Reg at least supports UTF-8 and Unicode. Seriously, try searching Slashdot for the 'â(TM)' string sometimes, which is what smart quotes get converted to by Slashdot's braindead CMS.

          1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

            Re: NASA and other acronyms are all upper case, you illiterate artiste morons.

            In theory, but I remember trying to use Unicode characters in my display name not so long ago and, while it looked okay on my profile, it didn't work so well when I posted something.

            1. Gene Cash Silver badge

              Re: NASA and other acronyms are all upper case, you illiterate artiste morons.

              I use FVWM... Unicode works pretty well everywhere... except window titles

              1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

                Re: NASA and other acronyms are all upper case, you illiterate artiste morons.

                I must admit I was taken by surprise the first time I saw it working in xterm. It's nice having everything using the same character set, finally (apart from the odd rogue website... including most of those that require your name and address: OH has an è in her name which is rendered in all sorts of random ways in email and printed labels but almost never correctly).

          2. Irony Deficient Silver badge

            Small caps? Pffft, […]

            I don’t use Slashdot, so what it lacks is not my concern. I do use El Reg, so what is lacking here is my concern.

          3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

            Re: Smart quotes

            Smart quotes are not a part of Unicode at all. What should be happening is when you type " your client software should convert it to one of ", “ or ” depending on context. Lots of software does this, with varying levels of irritation caused when the selection algorithm guesses what you did not want. Microsoft came up with the amazing idea (pre-unicode) of assigning a character sequence for smart quote and inserting that sequence into documents when you type ". That stood some chance of producing a random quote glyph if the character encoding was correctly signalled as one of Microsoft's encodings. AFAIK, there is no single official documented algorithm to convert a smart quote into a glyph so which one you get is POM dependent.

            Converting Microsoft encodings to Unicode is always going to have difficulty with smart quotes. To make matters worse, the encoding might not be specified, might be specified incorrectly or may simply be ignored. Pretending the source is UTF-8 is likely to work much of the time for English text, and with the "it compiles, ship it" level of testing much software gets defective clients and content management systems are common.

            1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
              Stop

              Re: Smart quotes

              Quotes are quotes.

              Stop trying to be smart about it.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Smart quotes

                Hear, hear!

                A quote character is ASCII value 34. Any variations must only be part of the display of the character, NOT a new character value.

                The same goes for apostrophes.

                And don't get me started on the horde of distant UTF8 character ranges that include Yet Another Copy Of The Alphabet, because Reasons.

            2. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Smart quotes

              Smart quote characters are there in windows-1252 (147 and 148) but not iso-8859-n. If your source encoding is correct, the likes of iconv should be able to convert it to utf-8.

              If your source encoding is incorrect then there are varying degrees of incorrect.

              - windows-1252 mislabled as iso-8859-n - maybe even fixable within the program which does the conversion (because the programmer wrongly assumed the source was iso-8859-1)

              - windows-1252 encoding just for the 128-159 range of iso-8859-n - well, that's an extra programming challenge to deal with just for that range

              - utf-8 mislabelled as windows-1252 or iso-8859-n - a complete nightmare, the data gets more and more corrupted every time it is converted and written to storage (file or DB)

            3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

              Re: Smart quotes

              What should be happening is when you type " your client software should convert it to one of ", “ or ” depending on context.

              Or "«" or "»" or "„" or "“" or "「" or "」" (i like these because the framing effect is elegant) or ...

              Let's not be Anglocentric here.

        2. aks

          Re: NASA and other acronyms are all upper case, you illiterate artiste morons.

          I dislike both small-caps and smart-quotes, but that's merely a personal preference. All-caps produces a much stronger negative reaction.

        3. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: NASA and other acronyms are all upper case, you illiterate artiste morons.

          I'm sorry - small caps are always read aloud in a leaden voice...

          I can' be having Death be the voice of all acronyms.

          1. cosmodrome

            Re: NASA and other acronyms are all upper case, you illiterate artiste morons.

            "DEATH BE THE VOICE OF ALL ACRONYMS!"

            I really like that.

      4. veti Silver badge

        Re: Spacetime

        Arguments about style are the stuff of holy wars. Nobody wins, everyone suffers, and not one participant in a thousand has the faintest idea what they are fighting about.

        There is a coherent rule that acronyms that are pronounced as words (like NASA, NATO, SPAM) are written with an initial capital only, like a proper name. It's not inherently "wrong", nor self-evidently any worse to write them that way. Get over it.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Spacetime

          "There is a coherent rule"

          Whose?

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Spacetime

            Well... the BBC's, for one.

            Practically every news organisation has its own internal style guide, and some of the better ones publish theirs for others to see.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Spacetime

              The BBC's "acronym as a word" rule is not coherent, they have exceptions to the rule when it would be confusing in their view, meaning the rule itself is confusing and they might as well just stick with all caps.

              1. ITMA Bronze badge

                Re: Spacetime

                And do you know why the BBC is only the BBC with the UK?

                Elsewhere it is the British Broadcasting Company to avoid trademark infringement with Brown, Boveri & Cie

                Early BBC micros had BBC on the clear plastic speaker/function key overlay strip. Later ones, including the Master series have British Broadcasting Corporation for that very reason.

        2. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: Spacetime

          Spam is not an acronym. It's a product trademark, and thus should have an initial capital.

          My beef is that one day the Bbc woke up and suddenly decided that Things Should Change. (IIRC this was 5-10 years ago but I'm probably wrong)

          No, they shouldn't. Things were fine.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Spacetime

            IIRC the Hormel meat product is in fact correctly "SPAM", and the stuff that arrives in your inbox despite efforts to the contrary is "spam" or "Spam" depending on whether it's in the middle of a sentence or starting one, as per what passes for a grammatical/style rule in English.

      5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Spacetime

        I shall start calling you the Bbc

        "Beeb" would do nicely.

      6. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Spacetime

        They should be getting shit on for wanting to go to Mars first. Go to the Moon first, build a base, make it work and find the flaws there, where a catastrophe means a few days in a evacuation craft. Go to Mars first, and a catastrophe means no evacuation as current technology can't get between Mars and Earth in less than a year at best. Work out the kinks with a Moon base, and by the time we have a safe, operational base on the Moon we'll likely also have something a little better than a waterjet to fly to Mars that will let us get there in a couple of days.

        Mind you, if there's a quantum leap in space travel technology and going to Mars becomes a 2-3 day trip tops, my opinon will probably change.

    3. jo.bloggs

      Re: Spacetime

      I still err on the side of optimism,

      That being said, I'd hazard a guess that inclusion of the Taj Mahal has validated, instead of it being invalidated, the topics of cannibalism, human overpopulation by infidelity (causing wars) and all manner of corruption and cheating.

      Perhaps the 'underdeveloped' (continuously overpopulating) were given too much credit to begin with; it would be prudent to keep only the symbols of culture of the involved engineers/staff of such efforts as worthy of being in the messages, not so-generously include the famines, shiva-vishnu habit of destruction, globalisation of poverty so we could all be equally poor and violent.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spacetime

      > In the current era we've set a discarded used car adrift in space.

      Perhaps the larger pity is we didn't set ... someone, say its owner ... along in that used car. Surely there are 1 or 2 candidates that would've left the planet better off in their absence. Come to think of it, the thing does have 2 seats....

  2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    "...its proposal for two sets of twin probes was shelved for being too costly."

    Hindsight has validated that efficiency saving, hasn't it? What did we do with that money that could be anywhere near as worthwhile?

    (Fucking bean counters. It's fucking criminal there weren't four voyagers.)

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      > What did we do with that money

      Ask those who complain NASA is "wasting taxpayers' money"...

      1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

        If it's anything like the UK it's usually along the lines of "stimulating the economy by reducing the tax burden on businesses", i.e. allowing ever more of it to be hoarded in offshore accounts. Which strikes me as an unambiguously less good use of money except for the hyper-rich who like willy-waving about who has the most islands and the biggest bank account.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          In the UK one probe would be developed to prototype stage and then the project would be cancelled.

          1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

            ...and the technology would then be given to the Americans who would rush through the finishing stages, claim they invented it and sell it back to us at an enormous profit.

            1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge
              Trollface

              Yeah. By the way, we've developed a new form of government called Monarchy. We can license you to use it for the low low price of 20 quid per subject per year.

          2. Caver_Dave
            Flame

            In the UK one probe would be developed to prototype stage and then the project would be cancelled.

            ...because it offended someone!

    2. veti Silver badge

      Won the Cold War? Invented PCs? Added more than ten years to average human life expectancy?

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        WTF?

        > Won the Cold War? Invented PCs? Added more than ten years to average human life expectancy?

        Are you sure about the chain of causal dependence here? Less Voyager probes won the cold war? Less Voyager probes caused IBM to invent PCs? Less Voyager probes added 10 years to peoples' lives? Really?

        You're just another of those silly "NASA is bad, I know it even if I can't explain it" people.

        (Didn't downvote you though.)

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          The PC is an architectural disaster area that's probably done more damage to computing than any other incident or invention. Its a great idea for what it is, its very useful, but its existence cemented the idea of what a computer is and what its used for in the public imagination to the point that generations of programmers now can't conceive of it being anything other than what it is.

          Its why when new Operating Systems features are written about (breathlessly) they focus on where the taskbar is or isn't, whether icons have rounded corners or not and all sorts of other stuff. The underlying architecture's the same old/same old that peaked in the late 1960s. The implementation technology has improved, but not much else.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            > The PC is an architectural disaster area

            I understand your point of view, but don't forget the original "IBM Personal Computer" spawned the cheap "PC clones", which made computing accessible to millions of people. That's a Good Thing in my book, even if the original IBM PC was nothing to write home about (I had one). It was the spark which started personal computing.

            .

            > they focus on where the taskbar is or isn't, whether icons have rounded corners or not

            Sorry but with no amount of insincerity that can be the IBM PC's fault... What causes this aberration is the commoditization of IT, which indeed in some way is the result of the IBM PC, but not a direct consequence of it: Commoditization of something which has become common is inevitable, and while I'm typing this on my laptop I'm pretty happy computers are now commonplace and not reserved to some elite...

            Now I agree the issue of dumbing-down and excessive focus on (pretended) design values is very annoying. We should fight it, but that requires putting pressure on those who commit it, not just blaming some event 40 years in the past.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Computing was already becoming available to millions of people by a number of better solutions before the IBM PC became dominant in the office. It was a few more years before the PC took over home computing.

              1. ThatOne Silver badge

                > Computing was already becoming available to millions of people by a number of better solutions

                True, and I had one of those solutions, years before the IBM PC arrived... But personal computing only really took off with standardization. Before there were turf wars and strong compartmentalization, you were either Commodore, Apple or Tandy, later also Sinclair or Amstrad, just to name the most successful.

                The PC was the VHS of computing: Technically not the best solution, but the one which eventually prevailed. It federated enough users to create a flourishing ecosystem: All of a sudden prospective software creators knew they had a huge potential market and software companies grew like mushrooms after the rain, which in turn made the PC even more attractive.

          2. Trygve Henriksen

            Way back in the early 90s, I had a course in microcontroller tech, and the teacher told us that if one of his students had come to him with one of those first PCs as a 'project', he would have failed him.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What did we do with that money that could be anywhere near as worthwhile?

      They could have given it to me for the best piss-up ever.

  3. Miss Config
    Facepalm

    Correction !

    Only Voyager 2 went to Uranus and Neptune after visiting Jupiter and Saturn.

    Voyager 1 only visited Jupiter and Saturn

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_1

    ( Sorry. Do not know how to activate a hyperlink on The Reg. )

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Correction !

      > Sorry. Do not know how to activate a hyperlink on The Reg

      You can't - yet. See here. Short version: Your account needs to be older than a year and have a minimum amount of posts.

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Correction !

      @Miss_Config you need a silver badge to access the html goodies. I am told the requirements are:

      "minimum of one year membership of Reg forums, at least 100 comments made using your handle in the previous 12 months and 2000 upvotes."

      Keep posting and have an upvote from me to help you on your way.

    3. Bill Gray

      Re: Correction !

      It would appear that we don't need no stinking badges. (Perhaps a change in policy?) Write, for example, <ä href='https://www.rickroll.org'> link </ä> (except without umlauts) and you can provide a link to the obligatory site. You will note I am unbadged.

    4. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Correction !

      Yeah, we meant that the two probes between them went to the four planets. I've now added a bit that says what specifically went where.

      Don't forget to email corrections@theregister.com if you spot anything wrong, or we might not see your comment for days.

      C.

  4. wiggers

    How long before we launch something that can overtake them?

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Don't hold your breath!!!

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        I think solar sails could be used to catch them up within a couple of decades, and possibly quite cheaply too. But there isn't a lot of science to be done doing just that. We were quite lucky to have the opportunity to exploit the 176 year alignment window but I think we'd be hard pushed to find a real use for overtaking the probes.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Unhappy

          > we'd be hard pushed to find a real use

          And even more to find the money.

          The economy being what it is, it gives excuses to all those vocal "don't spend on anything that doesn't benefit me directly" people, not to mention the vast "science is useless" crowd.

          I mean why do scientists make all those expensive experiments, if they want to know something they can check Wikipedia for free!

    2. Potemkine! Silver badge

      I thought New Horizon was faster than Voyager, but I was wrong

  5. KBeee Silver badge

    45 years? At least they don't need an MOT or pay VED now

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Happy

      Well, they're probably being followed by a trail of vehicle tax disc reminder letters.

      Better that than the Norweb Federation, I suppose.

      1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

        They probably have an enormous stack of threatening letters from TV Licensing waiting to be launched, too. Can't have them operating unlicensed receiving equipment, after all.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Alert

          TV Licence

          Even if NASA/JPL have a TV Licence, as the Voyagers are not operating on battery power, then, they'll need a TV Licence. Expect TV Licencing/Capita to dispatch a TV Detector van - 2x45 years of licence fees to be recovered...

  6. abstract

    Space garbage

    Space is full of lonely probes from civilizations that destroyed themselves.

    1. spireite Silver badge

      Re: Space garbage

      If they send a mission specifically to Uranus, is that internally referred to as an Anal Probe?

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    And still teaching us new stuff about the solar system we inhabit.

    Like that solar wind stops 70% of cosmic rays.

    That kind of data is pretty handy if you were planning to build an interstellar crewed exploration vehicle.*

    Now if it discovered evidence of unknow forces that disrupted the Standard Model (like the Ice Bridge being built on Jupiter in the opening to the "Cities in Flight" series) who knows what might happen......

    Quite impressive for something using a single '181 4bit ALU to emulate (IIRC) a 16 bit virtual processor.

    *Starship is a bit much with our current level of technology.

  8. Emir Al Weeq
    Headmaster

    Multiples of less

    "three million times less memory than a typical modern smartphone".

    One time less would be zero, so that must be -2,999,999 more.

    I wonder what negative memory looks like; two's complement?

    I'll leave "38,000 times slower" as it makes my brain hurt working out what that means.

    1. ITMA Bronze badge

      Re: Multiples of less

      "and transmits information back to Earth at a speed 38,000 times slower than 5G"

      So what if it is 38,000 times slower than 5G. It is hard enough getting 5G here on planet Earth in cities that are supposed to have it! Never mind 14,599,462,103 miles away (Voyager 1 as at 18:30 BST today) and going at 38,000 mph using a maximum transmitter power of 22.4 W

      Sudbury DTV here craps out in hot weather and that is 100 KW and only 28 miles away.

      https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/

    2. Eecahmap

      Re: Multiples of less

      Yes, Reg writers, please stop using phrases like "three million times less memory" or "38,000 times slower".

      If you mean 1/3000000 or 1/38000, say that.

      Otherwise just give actual values for memory or data rates - they're more useful.

      1. ITMA Bronze badge

        Re: Multiples of less

        They are falling into bad habits, rather like the BBC who are fond of:

        The best/worst/highest/lowest etc "in a generation" without specifying how many years they classify in a "generation". It is NOT a well defined quantity.

        and...

        "Since records began" without qualifying the statement by saying when that was. 100 years ago, 10 years ago, last month, last week or since they last buggered about with the way they measure the thing (like unemployment figures)?

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Multiples of less

          You guys try to apply scientific rigor to catchy headlines. Their point is just to make the reader go "wow!" before something else attracts his attention.

          1. ITMA Bronze badge

            Re: Multiples of less

            You main "click bait" for the mentally challenged?

            Perhaps those wanting that should stick to the "comics" such as the Sunday Sport, Sun or Daily Star.

            If there is one thing this world could do with more of it is honest, accurate journalism. Not bullshit "attention grabbing" shite for the brain dead with an attention span that would make a goldfish MENSA material.

            1. KBeee Silver badge

              Re: Multiples of less

              Not just the comics.

              Even serious newspapers/online have gone down the "Outrage At Whatever" route which often means if you read the article that 3 people on the "Journalists" echo chamber twitter feed said they didn't like something.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Multiples of less

            > Their point is just to make the reader go "wow!" before something else attracts his attention.

            I used to think that, but as I've got older, I've come to the conclusion that they're not clever enough to be doing that deliberately.

      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Multiples of less

        Otherwise just give actual values for memory or data rates - they're more useful.

        Came to this article late, and came to the comments to say exactly that. This is El Reg; you can be pretty certain that the majority of readers know the difference between a bit, a byte and a baud.

        So for all those who are wondering, per Wikipedia:

        The tape recorder could at launch hold about 67 megabytes of data but according to this archived page the unit in Voyager 2 was switched off in 2007 while that in Voyager 1 was due to continue operating until 2018.

        The six computers have 32k words of memory between them, four of the computers use 18 bit words while two use 16 bit words. Confirmed here at NASA (or Nasa)

        The downlink data rate at Jupiter was 115kbit/s but per NASA the downlink rate currently achievable with a 70m receiving antenna is 1.4kbit/s, though 160bps is more normal.

        The current status page is quite informative :-)

        M.

        1. ITMA Bronze badge
          Devil

          Re: Multiples of less

          Surprisingly this is quite good:

          https://haynes.com/en-gb/nasa-voyager-1-and-2-manual

          And also recommended, just in case one pops up on ebay:

          https://haynes.com/en-gb/large-hadron-collider-manual

          You never know!

          This is being a bit ambitious for an "Owner's Workshop Manual" LOL

          https://haynes.com/en-gb/mars-manual

          1. ITMA Bronze badge
            Devil

            Re: Multiples of less

            "And also recommended, just in case one pops up on ebay:

            https://haynes.com/en-gb/large-hadron-collider-manual

            You never know!"

            Just in case anyone was wondering - yes I WAS referring to a Large Hadron Collider popping up on eBay, not the book ;)

  9. Lordrobot

    THE GOLDEN DISKS WILL SPREAD SLAVERY to the Universe

    Oh but alien races can learn all about Earthlings... Maybe they don't want to learn about Earthling and view you as a threat. And now they know where to find you...

    Not everyone wants Uncle Eddie showing up for the Holidays.

    1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: THE GOLDEN DISKS WILL SPREAD SLAVERY to the Universe

      Know where to find us, what makes us tick, the best way to butcher to extract the most meat, ect. That probe is why that one alien race will arrive with a cookbook titled, "How to Serve Man."

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Technology Perspective

    45 years before Voyager launched, it was 1936. The technological progress in those 45 years was incredible and it made Voyager a possibility.

    In those 45 years since, we have sent probes to the outer planets to extend Voyager's findings, put rovers on Mars and Luna, surveyed asteroids and brought back samples, built three space stations (two still operating), built multiple space telescopes including Hubble and JWST, and developed numerous components that dwarf the Voyager mission, from lift vehicles to their computer. Most important, NASA is no longer alone.

    In the next 45 years who knows what can be done.

    Although I don't think the Golden Record can be beat.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Technology Perspective

      Used to be so peaceful in space, now there's hot-rods all over the place. And old Lady Moon, in her silvery grace, now has these words tattooed on her face; Better get ready! It's coming soon! Look out pa! There's monkeys on the moon!

      That's a Golden Record by Sopwith Camel ...

    2. Sub 20 Pilot

      Re: Technology Perspective

      Sadly in 45 years if the current state of humanity is anything to go by, we will be doing nothing in space. If the whole world got together and put politics, greed and religion aside things could be different but we seem hell bent on heading back to the dark ages with laws being formulated by religious nutters of all flavours, a few select inhumane and psychotic billionaires trying to own everything and wars all over the place.

      I have said it before but Covid has not been the problem, it could have been the solution. Humans are generally the problem.

      1. abstract

        Re: Technology Perspective

        I agree on COVID. It was my thought on day one but I disagree on religion.

        Atheism has been the leading religion for more than 2 centuries and it has been awful in all aspects. Even "science" is fully bloated by atheist paradigms that invariably lead to dead-ends and ignorance. Atheism simplifies everything out of its reach: human beings are animals which are like basic machines where you press a button you got an output and since there is no God, well everything happend by itself et voilà...

        Human beings are believing beings. That's why the propaganda is so high in every organization. If you lend your beliefs to someone you are their slave.

        The biggest misconception and biggest lie of the atheist religion is that technological progress comes with atheism. Technological progress comes with time, a step after another invariably (even during the powerful church in Europe). Just as the invention of the wheel is still the most relevant invention to date. Atheists are basic worshipers of technology that to the extreme think they are gods themselves.

        Atheist falsely say "religion" as if they were above and that all religion were the same: just beliefs. But both those claims are false. Atheism is a poor religion but it is a religion nonetheless. The religions are not just beliefs: human beings are believers, worshipers. It's their nature.

        I grew up in Christian schools in an atheist environment and I am a Muslim.

        Still most of you have been educated into hatred against Islam and religion without knowing what the matter is: just "oh it's religion".

        The changes that occured in Europe have their roots in the Islamic civilization. Indeed the debt is so high to assume that the West keeps belittling the importance of Islam.

        Some of the philosophers of the 18th had an admirative position on Islam and even regretted that the church prevented knowledge of Islam the same way atheist do nowadays.

        Most atheists will claim that they are modern, advanced and so on and they will go worship the republic, the nation or whatever fake idols they need to enslave those who believe them. Islam rejects tribalism (nationalism) as well as kingdoms which are associated with oppression.

        But it doesn't bother you that every megalomaniac wins you with "we are American, we are the great America".

        1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch

          Re: Technology Perspective

          You're confusing atheism with a religion.

          I've yet to meet the atheist who defines themselves by their atheism the way that a $(deity)ist does by their religion.

          Western civilisation abandoned established religion because it was killing too many people, witness the centuries of warfare surrounding the Reformation.

          As soon as nations agree on secular humanism as a shared value system, it's remarkable how unlikely war between such nations becomes. (I disqualify Communism and National Socialism on the grounds that they are clearly religious in character).

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Technology Perspective

            Yes, it helps to get the result you want if you first "disqualify" the most glaring counterexamples...

            I daresay you can also find grounds to disqualify Myanmar, Rwanda and Iraq, among others. But at some point you would have to say, exactly what countries *do* you have in mind?

            (Hint: the two intellectual powerhouses of the Enlightenment were Britain and France, and they spent a century at each others' throats even after abandoning all pretence that it was about religion.)

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Technology Perspective

            I think you're confusing atheism with agnosticism. Like every belief system atheists say "I know", they get very boring and the fundamentalists get extremely unpleasant - just like those of other belief systems.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Technology Perspective

            I've yet to meet the atheist who defines themselves by their atheism the way that a $(deity)ist does by their religion.

            Richard Dawkins.

            FTFY

        2. 45RPM Silver badge

          Re: Technology Perspective

          Have you been forgetting to take your dried frog pills again?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Technology Perspective

          > Just as the invention of the wheel is still the most relevant invention to date.

          I tend to go with the invention of "zero percent finance" myself.

      2. nobody who matters Bronze badge

        Re: Technology Perspective

        "........If the whole world got together and put politics, greed and religion aside......"

        Just politics and greed - the political fanatics and the greedy merely cherry-pick or distort whatever religion is convenient to justify their greed and viewpoint.

        Most religions actually promote friendship, tolerance and working together for a common good (most of the main religions being rooted in the same historical events), in spite of the constant vocal haranguing of the religion 'haters' who constantly try to promote religion as the root of all evil.

        1. nobody who matters Bronze badge

          Re: Technology Perspective

          ...and lo and behold we already have one of the aforementioned haters wielding a downvote - grow up, get a life and learn about the real world instead of wallowing in your own bigotted, warped and dismal existence.

        2. Norman Nescio Silver badge

          Re: Technology Perspective

          ...the constant vocal haranguing of the religion 'haters' who constantly try to promote religion as the root of all evil.

          And there was me thinking it was a chap by the name of Phil Argyria.

        3. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Technology Perspective

          "Most religions actually promote friendship, tolerance and working together for a common good (most of the main religions being rooted in the same historical events), in spite of the constant vocal haranguing of the religion 'haters' who constantly try to promote religion as the root of all evil."

          Only within their own religion. I don't know of a single religion that actually promotes those things towards those of different faiths in it's "original" scripture. None of them are perfect and peaceful, all of them at the core have an element of "but those guys are evil".

          1. nobody who matters Bronze badge

            Re: Technology Perspective

            "......Only within their own religion. I don't know of a single religion that actually promotes those things towards those of different faiths in it's "original" scripture...."

            Better have another look then. Christianity does so for a start - that is central to what being Christian means.

            As usual the anti religion 'haters' don't actuallyseem to know very much about the religions they pile so much scorn upon.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Technology Perspective

              Better have another look then. Christianity does so for a start - that is central to what being Christian means.

              Problem with Christianity on that front (speaking as an honest-to-goodness actual Christian) is the whole Old Testament baggage.

              You know all that stuff about invading other lands and then slaughtering every last man woman and child. (etc.etc.etc.)

              It doesn't sit easily and there are some "christian" variants who take it all a bit too seriously conveniently ignoring all the "turn the other cheek" and "be nice to people" stuff in the New Testament.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Technology Perspective

                Yep, Christianity is a totally schizophrenic bipolar religion: Half of the Bible is full of authoritarian, vengeful and aggressive messages, and the other half says, well, the exact opposite. Go figure.

                It's a big "pick whatever suits you" free buffet, justifying bloody religion wars, inquisition, witch burning, brutal conversion of cheap local labor "infidels", and all the other happy lucky crimes committed in the name of Christianity in those last 2000 years.

                So don't get so self-righteous about it, you might not be like them, but they did act in the name of that same religion. Some humility might suit you well.

                Signed: A Christian.

            2. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: Technology Perspective

              Precisely what AC said above. Look in the old testament. And if you go by the religious teachings as provided in the churches of Christianity (roman catholic in my case) you'll find plenty of "but those guys are bad" even if it's not literally written in the scripture.

            3. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: Technology Perspective

              BTW, you're also wrong that I'm an anti-religion hater. I'd call my self "non-practicing christian" but that is beside the point. To truly understand any religion, even your own, in my opinion it is a necessity to understand and recognize it's dark sides. Every religion has one, even Buddhism.

    3. Steve K

      Re: Technology Perspective

      Voyager launched in 1977.

      45 years before that was 1932 wasn’t it?

      That doesn’t change the rest of your post’s sentiment of course

    4. Dazed and Confused

      Re: Technology Perspective

      > Although I don't think the Golden Record can be beat.

      By the time an alien civilization finds the golden disk it will probably a bit too late to ask for more Chuck Berry.

    5. Eecahmap

      Re: Technology Perspective

      Who's "we" in regard to the number of space stations?

      There were at least six space stations in the Salyut program.

      There was Mir.

      There was Skylab.

      There's the ISS.

      And there's Tiangong, and its two predecessors with similar names.

  11. Mayday Silver badge
    Pint

    Do they build them like the used to?

    A design life of ~15-20 years and still chugging along after 45, albeit at a reduced capacity.

    Keep it up!

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Do they build them like the used to?

      > still chugging along after 45, albeit at a reduced capacity.

      Almost human...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do they build them like the used to?

      I'm surprised NASA aren't being pilloried for wasting money on Voyager through over-design...

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Do they build them like the used to?

      A neighbour of mine has a pristine Mk3 Cortina still on the road. Congratulations Dagenham and Brentwood Ford.

    4. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Do they build them like the used to?

      Original design life was iirc mostly limited by receiver tech. It was expected the signals of the probes would be too weak to make it to earth with the limited transmitter power available on the probes at some point. Massive improvements in the DSN receiver sensitivity and signal processing algorithms means that we can still pick out their ultra faint signals from the background noise, but it's not exactly an easy task.

  12. AlanSh

    8 track tape recorder?

    Do you think they put a library of 8 track tapes in there - just in case the aliens wanted to listen to our music? What do you think it would contain (and I think Bach would be essential)?

    1. Mayday Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: 8 track tape recorder?

      Here it is. With explanations of how to play etc. Personally I’m not sure I could have worked it out if this thing landed on my lap with the diagrams shown as the only “instructions” but I’m sure the sort who’d have the means to find the thing are smarter than me.

      https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/golden-record/

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: 8 track tape recorder?

        Fun experiment, just hand a replica to a bunch of todays 8 year olds (make sure they haven't been exposed to vinyl records before, shouldn't be too hard) and see if they can figure it out.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 8 track tape recorder?

      Who said 8-track was yesterday's technology? Considering how CDs are getting deprecated, 8-track is a master of longevity (albeit bettered by the analogue golden disk).

  13. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Golden Record

    Anyone know if the masters still exist? NASA could release vinyl versions...

    https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/galleries/making-of-the-golden-record/

  14. martinusher Silver badge

    The real multiplier is not power or speed but signal to noise ratio

    Voyager has been kept going by heroic efforts on Earth which have moved the bar just enough over the years to be able to capture the extremely weak signal from these probes. Fast processors and huge bandwidth not only uses comparatively large amounts of power but are relatively useless at these signal levels. There are a number of interesting posts about this, for example:-

    https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/24338/how-to-calculate-data-rate-of-voyager-1

    (There's a whole subset of amateur radio enthusiasts who are fascinated by just how far you can go with how little power. I suppose if you want reliable voice communications you can use 'the Texan approach' -- 1300watts PEP, 70' tower and a beam antenna -- or maybe just call on your phone but working with extremely weak signals is an art form.)

    1. Caesarius
      Thumb Up

      Re: The real multiplier is not power or speed but signal to noise ratio

      QRP

  15. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alert

    Launched in 1977

    Golden record is cool, but did they also include THAT swimsuit poster of Farrah Fawcett?

    Every teenage boy had one of those in ‘77.

    Myself included.

    1. Atomic Duetto

      Re: Launched in 1977

      Oh yeah, chick chika chikah

  16. AceRimmer1980
    Alien

    Re: The Grand Tour

    Tonight, Jeremy overdrives the ion thruster for more powerrrrr, Richard gets local radio flashbacks from the higain antenna, and James executes a perfect slingshot manoeuvre but ends up on a collision course with Phobos.

  17. Danny 2 Silver badge

    V'ger

    Being shot down by aliens isn't the worst thing that could happen to Voyagers. They who forget Star Trek movies are condemned to rewatch them.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_The_Motion_Picture#Plot

  18. THEJEB

    Sci Fi got there first

    Remember the first Star Trek film. Voyager was found by aliens and became Vjay.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: Sci Fi got there first

      Star Trek and the Voyagers have one thing in common: they've both lasted well beyond their original "5 year mission"

    2. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: Sci Fi got there first

      Actually, I got there first, six hours before you. And I read through the thread to check nobody had posted it. And I got the name right with a supporting link. And I got downvoted when you got upvoted. This must be the bad universe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sci Fi got there first

        I'm guessing you got downvoted because of "condemned".

        I'd have downvoted for that, then upvoted you for the pedantry.

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: Sci Fi got there first

          ​“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

          It was a joke, a better joke than the best joke at the Edinburgh Festival fringe this year. Plus I was right, and first, which has to count for something. I hate to insult everyone but I could suspect I'm being downvoted for being a smartarse.

          1. Danny 2 Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Sci Fi got there first

            ​TV news covering the Fringe keep saying the amount of rubbish on the streets is attracting rats, but that is pejorative. Locals prefer to say performers are attracting tourists.

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. msobkow Silver badge

    Fridges built back then are still running, too. They used to build EVERYTHING properly back then, not to statistical failure rates like nowadays.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Bovine excrement, they built plenty of fast breaking dross back then too. There's just also some of the good quality stuff that has somehow made it to this modern day. The only advantage SOME old tech has is that it's repairable (at least to a point) and if enough of it was made spares might still be available as New Old Stock somewhere.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Voyager is a marvel of engineering and the human spirit

    Details on the triple dual-redundancy & flight data system https://history.nasa.gov/computers/Ch6-2.html

    12-inch gold-plated copper record contents https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/golden-record/

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