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Moons

7.1.3 Voyager – inspiring generations

This video may perhaps make you realise what an amazing achievement the Voyager project has been. Some of the speakers are scientists who were involved in the project since its inception; others are those influenced by Voyager since childhood.

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NARRATOR
For the past 30 years, NASA's Voyager twins have phoned home every day, sending snapshots and stories that shape our view of the Solar System.
JOHN CASANI
Pictures from Voyager bring us into contact with worlds and visions that otherwise could only exist in our imagination. But you can almost imagine looking out the cockpit of the spacecraft as you fly by a moon like Io and say, 'Wow, that's something new. We've never seen that before.'
ED STONE
I think the main legacy of Voyager is to, in fact, have opened up our Solar System in a way which was not possible before the space age. It revealed all of our neighbours in the Solar System.
I did not realise how much impact it would have. When we flew by Neptune, people were standing in line at night at planetariums in order to be able to see the images coming in from Voyager. Because they weren't on the web in those days. There was no web.
BOY
Looks like circle.
NARRATOR
Voyager was an attention-grabber that influenced two generations of popular culture.
TRACY DRAIN
The first thing that comes up is that Star Trek movie with a bald lady wandering around going, "V'Ger." [LAUGHS]
NARRATOR
When Voyager launched in 1977, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter systems engineer Tracy Drain was just two years old.
TRACY DRAIN
The pictures that came back from Voyager - the pictures of Saturn, and Jupiter, and Uranus - that's the way I got to know the planets when I was a kid. Those were the photos that were there for me the instant I could even look around to see what space was all about.
SCOTT MAXWELL
The first thing I really remember was watching Carl Sagan's Cosmos television series when I was a kid on our little black-and-white TV. A few years ago, I was training to operate Deep Space Network radio telescopes and got to set up a communication pass for Voyager. I got to grow up and become a part of the mission that had inspired me to go into space exploration in the first place.
NARRATOR
In 1990, engineers commanded Voyager 1 to turn around and take a picture of home.
SCOTT MAXWELL
And we see the picture that Voyager took from the edge of the Solar System, looking back at Earth when Earth is just a pale blue dot, as Carl Sagan called it. If that doesn't give you perspective on us and what goes on in our world, I don't think anything will.
NARRATOR
Voyager 1 is now more than nine billion miles from the Sun, the most distant spacecraft ever. Voyager 2 is not far behind. Both are on the outer edge of the region influenced by our Sun. One day, they will take the first steps into interstellar space.
ED STONE
The most important thing Voyager has done is show how much there is - the new frontiers of space, how large that frontier is, and how much there is to be done, so that the students who come along and becomes scientists will still have many things to learn - many things to discover.
NARRATOR
Each spacecraft carries a record with greetings from Earth.
BOY (RECORDING)
Hello, from the children of planet Earth.
MAN (RECORDING)
[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
WOMAN (RECORDING)
[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
NARRATOR
The Voyagers will be humankind's first interstellar probes.
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