In a stark reminder of just how big the universe is, Voyager 1 has become the first man-made object to leave our solar system – 36 years after it left our atmosphere. It’s older sibling, Voyager 2 (yes, V2 launched before V1), is still racing toward the border – though by interstellar standards, not so much racing as sauntering. She should get there in the next few years.
So…what now? We have two probes in interstellar space. They’ll send back all this data that will take years for scientists to sift through. What happens when they run out of things to tell us? I mean, according to theory, there’s not much out there between solar systems. And they just move too slowly to make it to another star system before we do.
I’m hoping they run into the interstellar equivalent of an expressway. All those aliens who have previously ignored our tiny, insignificant yellow dwarf star on their way to richer, greener pastures – will one of them come across our probes? Will they think it’s just space garbage and use it as target practice? Will they be curious and decode that gold disc? How ’bout that eight-track tape recorder? Will they trace the probes’ paths back to Earth and let us in on all their little secrets? Will we finally be rid of religion?
I’m not holding my breath…