Way back in 1965, some graduate students started thinking about "using gravity to propel a spacecraft from one planet to the next, indefinitely." That way an exploratory spacecraft could explore huge amounts of space with a minimum of fuel. Scientists then realized that a "rare planetary alignment would occur during the 1980's"--a perfect time to use the gravity effect to explore the outer planets. So NASA built two space probes, named each one "Voyager" and launched them on August 20 and September 5 of 1977. (Hey, that makes this the 40th anniversary!) The rest of the book tells this incredible story. It's amazing--two lone space craft, operating on 1977 technology travel vast distances to discover things no one ever suspected existed in the Solar System, like volcanoes on a moon of Jupiter! And those Voyagers are still transmitting data to us today from interstellar space. If this doesn't qualify as an epic story, I don't what does!
|Photo of Saturn taken by Voyager|
|A Voyager spacecraft--can you find the golden record?|
All right, guys, you can stop here if you'd like but if you wouldn't mind, the Iron Guy would like to add a PS to my review and it's about what may be the most incredible fact of all. Try to wrap your brains around this--the two space probes that are still zipping through space at 35000 mph and still sending us data from outside from interstellar space were built with, equipped and still operating with 1970's technology!! Think about that for a moment. Would you use a computer from the 1980's? Or trust a phone or tablet that was more than five years old? Yet we are still hearing from equipment that was built before 1980. For crying out loud, the info on the Voyagers is recorded on eight track players!! Go ask your grandparents about those if you want to get a perspective on how ancient that technology is.
|Yes, boys, go ask your grandparents about eight track players (don't ask the Iron Guy how he knows about them!)|