Voyager: Inspiring Generations

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Voyager: Inspiring Generations
08.21.07
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Narrator:
For the past 30 years, NASA's Voyager twins have phoned home everyday, sending snapshots and stories that shaped our view of the solar system.

John Casani, Former Voyager Project Manager
Pictures from Voyager bring us into contact with worlds and visions that otherwise can only exist in our imagination.
But when you, 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, Voyager Project Scientist
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 our neighbors in the solar system.

I did not realize 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.

Narrator:
Voyager was an attention-grabber that influenced two-generations of popular culture.

Tracy Drain, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Systems Engineer
The first thing comes up, is that Star Trek movie with the bald lady wandering around going, "V-gr. V-gr." (Laughter)

Narrator:
When Voyager launched in 1977,
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter systems engineer Tracy Drain was just two years old.

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. You know, those were the photos that were there for me, you know, the instant I could even look around to see what space was all about.

Scott Maxwell, Mars Exploration Rover Driver
The first thing I really remember was watching Karl 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.

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 Karl 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 9 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.

Stone:
The most important thing Voyager's 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 become scientists will still have many things to learn, many things to discover.

Narrator:
Each spacecraft carries a record with greetings from Earth.

(Greetings in different languages)

Narrator:
The Voyagers will be humankind's first interstellar probes.

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