At the risk of attracting “most boring post since that last crap space one” comments, I’d like to take a few moments to pay tribute to arguably the best space missions ever, Voyager.
Launched an unbelievable 30 years ago, both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are still going strong, still returning data to earth despite the former being the farthest man made object from earth. Designed to last 5 years, most of their instruments still function with only minimal degradation.
There is no point it recounting the incredible list of achievements of these spacecraft other than to encourage the reader to investigate further and marvel and the ingenuity and robustness of technology that we would consider archaic now. A 4-bit processor and an 8-track tape form the core of the processing power and storage. Go figure.
As a technology person, it is a salutory lesson that you can produce powerful, robust product without having to use the latest and greatest of fancy tools and technology. Concentrate on getting it right and you can do deliver results with anything.
So, well done NASA and JPL. Staggering stuff. Just hope that you continue to get funded to keep the Voyager missions running until 2020. Shouldn’t abandon them to the cosmos yet.
Aye – there’s an interesting parallel on the “old technology” front that was described in the Orlando Sentinel a couple of years ago. Compare the Russian space programme against the US one. The former is based on technology as old (or older) than that of Voyager. They haven’t lost a cosmonaut since, eh, 1972 I think.
Tell that to the families of Christa McAuliffe.
You’re right — hooray for the space probes, from Explorer 1 to Cassini-Huygens. A positive contribution from the US to the world. I also appreciate your blog entries on photography.