Voyager I becomes Earth’s first interstellar object

September 14, 2013

Can you recall what you were doing on September 5, 1977?

The Voyager 1 aboard the Titan III/Centaur lif...

The Voyager 1 aboard the Titan III/Centaur lifted off on September 5, 1977, joining its sister spacecraft, the Voyager 2, on a mission to the outer planets. Wikipedia image, from NASA

That’s the day NASA launched Voyager I, on a trip to photograph planets in our solar system more close up than we can get with Earth-bound telescopes.  The Hubble Space Telescope was not even on the drawing board then.

After completing its mission, Voyager I continued on its path.  Scientists thought it would survive to leave the solar systems, and a few forward-looking thinkers hoped to learn more about just how far the influence of our Sun really extends.  At some point, Voyager I would leave space where the chief gravitational and wind influence is the Sun, and move into truly inter-stellar (“between the stars”) space, where gravity and particle emissions are dominated by other objects in our galaxy.

Last week NASA announced that time came in August of 2012, confirmed by data transmitted back to earth by Voyager’s primitive capabilities, over the last year. explains it well:

Interesting to think of the investment in thought, money, effort and patience by scientists and policy-makers to wait more than 35 years for such a research result.


Voyager I, artist's interpretation.  NASA image

Voyager I, artist’s interpretation. NASA image

Global warming on other planets? Don’t be a dumb bunny

May 18, 2010

Do you weary, as I do, of global warming disbelievers* who say, with a straight face, that global warming is no problem on Earth because other planets in our solar system are also warming?

I mean, they say it as if there were a connection, as if it meant anything — does it weary you?

Photograph of sunglint and the Earth's limb from the Internation Space Station Expedition 22.

Photograph of sunglint and the Earth’s limb from the Internation Space Station Expedition 22.

Eli Rabett is doing the hard-but-necessary academic task of combing through the official responses EPA scientists gave to comments on their proposals to regulate greenhouse gases.  Such regulations must be published in the Federal Register, and upon publication they must be open to public comment for a while, usually at least 30 days.

Ain’t our democratic republic wonderful?  Agencies are required to answer the comments, even stupid comments, even stupid comments from political hacks bent on making political points instead of shining light.

And, Eli has teased out EPA’s responses to the claims that warming on Earth is no problem because there is warming on other planets, so we can blame warming on God or the Sun, and do nothing.

Um, EPA doesn’t think so.  Read it here, at Eli’s burrow.

(I’ll wager Eli is one who knows his burro from a burrow.)


*  “Disbelievers?”  Still searching for a word to substitute for “denialist” which doesn’t offend the denialists, but doesn’t let them off the hook for being silly, either.

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