From: Southwest Research Institute
Posted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Twenty-five years ago, two spacecraft were launched from planet Earth on an epic voyage. Their purpose was twofold: to explore for the first time the scientific wonders of the outer solar system, and to communicate humanity's presence to the cosmos.
A new, two-hour television documentary detailing the travels of Voyagers 1 and 2 and the scientific, cultural, and historical significance of this pioneering mission, will premier on the A&E Network January 16, with an encore showing January 25. (Check local listings for show times.) "Cosmic Journey: The Voyager Interstellar Mission and Message" tells a tale of adventure, exploration, and romance from the point of view of the individuals who made it happen.
Dr. Carolyn Porco, an Institute Scientist in the Space Studies Department at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder and Adjunct Professor at both the University of Colorado and the University of Arizona in Tucson, served as science advisor for the special and is one of its main storytellers. As a member of the Voyager Imaging Team, Porco participated in the spacecraft encounters with Saturn in 1980 and 1981, Uranus in 1986, and Neptune in 1989, and in the taking of Voyager's "pale blue dot" image of Earth from beyond the orbit of Neptune. She presently serves as the team leader for the imaging science experiment on the Cassini mission to Saturn.
"Voyager was a mission of mythic proportions, with all the elements of Homeric legend," she says. "It was a long, adventurous journey punctuated by episodes of great discovery and conquest, unique in its legacy of scientific findings, and, because of its message to the cosmos, deeply imbued with human meaning and significance."
Affixed to each Voyager spacecraft is a golden phonograph record containing a message from Earth for any space-faring extraterrestrial civilization that might one day find them. The show introduces us to the people who crafted the message and tells of their overwhelming task to choose, on a breakneck deadline, the music, pictures, and sounds that would represent life on Earth for billions of years.
As the two spacecraft, now the most distant human-made artifacts, exit the solar system, they continue their groundbreaking journey where the sun's influence ends and interstellar space begins.
"Voyager changed and defined all of us who touched it," says Porco. "I will forever feel privileged to have been a part of it."
"Cosmic Journey: The Voyager Interstellar Mission and Message" is a production of Cosmos Studios and Norman Star Media.
For more information about the Voyager missions, visit voyager.jpl.nasa.gov.
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