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Humans have never visited another planet, but we can send special spacecraft called probes to visit them for us! One of those probes, called Voyager 1, has gone deeper into space than any other, and it's sent us some amazing pictures along the way!
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SOURCES:
https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/spacecraft/
https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/frequently-asked-questions/fast-facts/
https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/nasa-knows/what-is-a-satellite-58.html
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/jpl/education/spaceprobe-20100225.html
https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/record-player.htm
Wouldn’t it be super cool if we could go visit other planets?

Astronauts have visited the Moon before, but so far no people have ever been to another planet. [Squeaks squeaks] Nope, no rats have ever visited another planet, either, Squeaks! But even though we haven’t sent people very far out into space, we have sent special kinds of spaceships very far away.

The farthest one is called Voyager 1, and it’s all the way outside of the solar system, in the space between the stars! We haven’t sent people to visit other planets yet because most of them are really far away, and they don’t have air we can breathe or soil where we can grow food like on Earth. So before we send people to other planets, scientists have to figure out how to avoid all the things that might be dangerous about the trip.

But in the meantime, astronomers, the scientists who study space, have other ways to learn about it — with telescopes, for example. And if astronomers want to learn even more than they can with a telescope, they might send something called a probe into space. A space probe is a kind of spaceship that doesn’t have people on it.

It goes out into space and uses its computers, cameras, and other kinds of equipment to learn about things in the solar system, like other planets or moons. And in some cases, probes can even study what’s beyond our solar system! That’s what Voyager 1 is doing.

It launched about 40 years ago, in 1977, and it actually has a twin space probe, Voyager 2, that was launched around the same time. Voyagers 1 and 2 started their journey right here on Earth, and the plan was for them to travel all the way to interstellar space, the part of space between the stars. On the way, they both visited some of the outer planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn.

And Voyager 2 went on to check out the two planets that are farthest from the Sun — Uranus and Neptune. It’s still the only probe we’ve ever sent to those planets. While Voyager 2 was doing that, Voyager 1 kept speeding toward interstellar space.

And a few years ago, it got there! Right now, it’s over 20 billion kilometers away from Earth. That is really, really far — the farthest we’ve ever sent anything into space! [Squeaks is impressed] It’s hard to even imagine how far away Voyager 1 is.

It’s like traveling to the Moon and back 25,000 times, or going all the way around the Earth 500,000 times! Voyager 2 is also incredibly far away. It hasn’t gotten all the way out of the solar system yet, but it’s almost there.

Since people knew the Voyager probes were going to be leaving the solar system, they prepared something very special to put on them. In addition to all of their scientific equipment, Voyager 1 and 2 have a set of golden discs with messages, pictures, and sounds on them. They’re kind of like big DVDs or Blu-rays.

We put these discs on the Voyager probes just in case they’re discovered by aliens someday. [Squeaks squeaks] No, that doesn’t mean there are aliens out there, Squeaks. We don’t know if there are living things on other planets. But just in case anyone from another world ever discovers one of the Voyager probes, we wanted them to know more about us — the people who sent them into space.

So, all those pictures and sounds on the discs are to help show what life on Earth is like. There are pictures of people on Earth, different kinds of environments, and even things like people eating to show how humans live. There are also sounds from nature, like ocean waves and thunder, different types of music, and people saying hello in lots of languages.

Right now, the Voyager probes still have enough electricity to send us messages from where they are in space for around 10 more years. But in space, once you start moving, you don’t slow down — you just keep going. So, even after they run out of power, they’ll still be out there, zooming farther and farther from Earth.

If there are aliens out there, and they discover the Voyager probes someday, we’ll probably never know. But because of those special golden discs, they’ll know a little bit about us. Thanks for joining us!

If you want to keep learning and having fun with Squeaks and me, hit the subscribe button, and we’ll see you next time here at the Fort!