Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

The Voyagers in Popular Culture
by Elizabeth Landau for JPL News
Pasadena CA (JPL) Dec 05, 2017

The Voyager spacecraft were built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, which continues to operate both.

Whether you're traveling across cities, continents or even oceans this holiday season, there is no long-haul flight quite like that of the Voyagers.

This year, we celebrated 40 years since the launch of NASA's twin Voyager probes - the two farthest, fastest spacecraft currently in operation. Each Voyager has contributed an enormous amount of knowledge about the solar system, including the unexpected diversity of its planets and their moons. Among their many distinctions, Voyager 1 is the only spacecraft to enter interstellar space, and Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to fly by all four giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

You might have missed the virtual Voyager party, though, since there was a lot of other space news around the time of the Voyager launch anniversaries. The solar eclipse, visible across America, took place on Aug. 21, just one day after Voyager 2 marked 40 years in flight. Sept. 5 was Voyager 1's launch anniversary, but space fans were already gearing up to commemorate the finale of NASA's Cassini mission on Sept. 15.

Don't worry - it's never too late to appreciate the far-reaching influence the Voyagers have had. In fact, in addition to the news coverage the spacecraft have received, the spacecraft have also earned a place in popular culture.

So, since you might have some downtime as we head into the holidays, here are some Voyager-related movies, TV shows and songs. (Warning: a few spoilers ahead!)

Voyagers in Film and Television
Perhaps the most widely recognized pop culture Voyager homage is in the film "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" from 1979. In the film, a machine called V'Ger - the fictional Voyager 6 spacecraft, its intelligence greatly enhanced by an alien race - seeks the home of its creator, Earth, and threatens to wreak havoc on our planet in the process.

In real life, John Casani, who was the Voyager project manager at that time at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, offered to loan a Voyager model to "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry. Although the movie version altered the original design, it still used the mission as an inspiration.

The spacecraft had long passed the planets when a 2004 episode of "The West Wing" - titled "The Warfare of Genghis Khan" - mentioned a major mission milestone: Voyager 1 crossing the termination shock. The termination shock is a shockwave that marks the point at which the solar wind from the Sun, which travels at supersonic speeds up to that point, abruptly slows down and heats up.

It represents the innermost part of the boundary of the heliosphere, the magnetic bubble that includes the Sun, planets and solar wind. Due to the termination shock crossing, the character Josh Lyman (mistakenly) declares this Voyager 1 to be the first man-made object to leave our solar system (mistakenly, because the solar system ends well beyond that landmark). "Funny, I'm going through a little termination shock myself," quips the character Donna Moss.

More recently, Voyager 1 did, in real life, cross into interstellar space in 2012, although technically it has still not left the solar system. In 2013, to talk about that milestone, the mission's project scientist, Ed Stone of Caltech in Pasadena, appeared on Comedy Central's Colbert Report.

The Golden Record
Each Voyager contains a copy of a Golden Record filled with Earth's sights and sounds, including images, music and audio clips of people and animals. This record has been featured in several works of science fiction. In the 1984 film "Starman," a race of aliens discovers the record and sends an emissary to Earth to learn more about our planet.

A 1994 episode of the X-Files titled "Little Green Men" also paid homage to Voyager. The episode opens with FBI agent Fox Mulder describing the Voyager mission and the Golden Record, including images, music and a child's voice saying, "Hello from the children of planet Earth." Mulder says the Voyagers passed the orbit of Neptune and "there were no further messages sent," but in reality, the Voyagers still communicate with Earth every day.

The mission wasn't exempt from fun on "Saturday Night Live." In episode 64, which aired in 1978, a psychic played by actor Steve Martin says the extraterrestrials had found the record and replied, "Send More Chuck Berry" - referring to the iconic song "Johnny B. Goode" included on the Golden Record. Learn more about the Golden Record and see a full list of its contents here.

And More
Voyager has proved inspirational to contemporary musicians and songwriters as well. The Academy Award-winning composer Dario Marianelli wrote a Voyager violin concerto that had its world premiere in 2014 in Brisbane, Australia, and was subsequently played by the London Symphony Orchestra in 2015. Artist James Stretton also wrote a song in honor of the Voyagers' 40th anniversary.

For a deep dive into the history of the mission, the documentary "The Farthest" premiered on PBS in August, featuring numerous interviews with Voyager scientists and engineers, past and present.

And if you get tired of looking at your own vacation photos, there are lots to explore on the Voyager website. Live long and prosper, Voyagers!

+ Voyager at JPL

NASA successfully fires Voyager 1 thrusters after 37 years
Washington (AFP) Dec 2, 2017
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft - cruising interstellar space billions of miles from Earth - was back on the right track Friday thanks to thrusters that were fired up for the first time in 37 years. The unmanned spaceship was launched along with its twin, Voyager 2, more than 40 years ago to explore the outer planets of our solar system, traveling further than any human-made object in history. ... read more

Related Links
Voyagers at NASA
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Building for a future in space: An interview with Dava Newman and Gui Trotti

Space Farms: 'Mark Watney in The Martian Was Right to Add Poop to the Soil'

NASA successfully fires Voyager 1 thrusters after 37 years

Does the Outer Space Treaty at 50 need a rethink

ISRO eyes one rocket launch a month in 2018

Russia to build launch pad for super heavy-lift carrier by 2028

Flat-Earther's self-launch plan hits a snag

Mechanisms are critical to all space vehicles

EU exempts fuel for ExoMars mission from Russian sanctions

Winter wanderings put Opportunity at 28 Miles on the odometer

Earthworms can reproduce in Mars-like soil

Opportunity Greets Winter Solstice

Nation 'leads world' in remote sensing technology

China plans for nuclear-powered interplanetary capacity by 2040

China plans first sea based launch by 2018

China's reusable spacecraft to be launched in 2020

Going green to the Red Planet

Orbital ATK purchase by Northrop Grumman approved by shareholders

UK space launch program receives funding boost from Westminster

Need to double number of operational satellites: ISRO chief

New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond

New 3-D printer is 10 times faster than commercial counterparts

Device could reduce the carbon footprint of ethylene production

Researchers inadvertently boost surface area of nickel nanoparticles for catalysis

Scientists identify key factors that help microbes thrive in harsh environments

Exoplanet Has Smothering Stratosphere Without Water

Scientists study Earth's earliest life forms in Nevada hot spring

The answer to planetary habitability is blowing in the stellar wind

Jupiter Blues

Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected

Jupiter's Stunning Southern Hemisphere

Watching Jupiter's multiple pulsating X-ray Aurora

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement