Talk: Voyager Space Program at 37 and Counting

Voyager Spacecraft

On Wednesday, local space fans will be able to hear first-hand stories from the golden years of the space age. But the best part is that new stories are still being written.

In 1977, the United States launched two space probes — Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 — to explore the outer solar system. NASA had 24,000 employees and a $4 billion annual budget, and we were unabashedly reaching for the stars.

Things have changed quite a bit in the intervening decades. By some accounts, the space age is over. The Space Shuttle program is gone, and the private sector is taking the lead. So perhaps the most impressive part of the Voyager program’s timeline is that it’s still not over. The primary mission ended way back in 1989, in fact, and the probes are now exploring interstellar space.

Voyager I left our solar system in 2012, venturing further from Earth than any other man-made object. And it has enough power to run its scientific instruments through 2025.

P39582.jpgOn March 4, the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy will host a special presentation by Ed Stone. Now a physics professor at Caltech, he was project scientist for the Voyager missions and a former director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Since the probes were launched 37 years ago, Stone coordinated several teams of Voyager scientists, including five teams that are now tracking the mission’s foray through the outer heliosphere into interstellar space.

The event is part of the institute’s Explorers of the Universe lecture series, which is sponsored by The Sheraton Waikiki. Wednesday’s presentation is free and open to the public, but since space is limited at the UH Manoa Campus Center, tickets are required.

Institute for Astronomy donors will be able to attend a pre-talk reception with Stone. And the good news is, it’s pretty easy to join this esteemed group. Just donate online to support the IfA Advancement Fund.

For more information, connect with the Institute for Astronomy on Facebook or on Twitter.

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