Monday, June 28, 2010, marked the 12,000th day of the Voyager 2 mission. Since 1977, Voyager 2 (along with its companion Voyager 1) has been exploring the solar system and pushing the envelope of the extent of our exploration of the universe. How far these probes have gone, and how far humanity has ventured away from Earth (albeit indirectly), are intertwined mesofacts. And the current status is that Voyager 2 is 14 billion kilometers from the sun, and Voyager 1 is more than 17 billion kilometers from the sun. Of course, these are both less than two-tenths of a percent of a single light-year, meaning that we have our exploration cut out for us. In addition, the Voyager probes are not actually the farthest probes; Pioneers 10 and 11 hold that distinction. However, they are no longer operational, and so while they continue to move through space, they no longer actively explore.
An interesting side-note: I learned of this milestone courtesy of Voyager 2’s Twitter feed, @Voyager2, which was described as follows:
“12,000 days since launch, & still going strong. Thank you, to all who designed me, put me together, talk to me, & keep me going to this day.”
I can only imagine that this is a subtle allusion to the ancient Jewish prayer known as the Shehecheyanu, which is traditionally said to celebrate special occasions. It is translated as follows:
“Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.”
For further reading about the Voyager probes, I recommend checking out Todd Sieling’s wonderful paean to the Voyager mission, showing its effect on a single person.
(reposted from Mesofacts.org)