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Space News

Something to inspire your day.  Enjoy!  - Pat 

PASADENA, Calif. (Feb. 17) - More than 6.5 billion miles from home, a U.S.
spacecraft carrying the sounds of a human kiss and the best wishes from a
former president has become the most distant man-made object in the universe.

Voyager 1 - so far away after more than 20 years hurtling through space that
its signals take more than 9 1/2 hours to reach Earth - surpassed the distance
of the older Pioneer 10 spacecraft by midday Tuesday.

''Now the baton is being passed,'' Edward Stone, director of NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory and Voyager project director, said in a statement.

Voyager 1 and the elderly Pioneer 10 are headed away from the sun in nearly
opposite directions. Both are powered by nuclear batteries that keep them
functioning in the freezing blackness of space.

On the edge of the solar system, Voyager 1 still returns data, although the
power of the signal reaching NASA antennas is 20 billion times weaker than the
power of a digital watch battery.

Voyager 1 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Sept. 5, 1977, carrying
scientific instruments for planetary exploration and a message to the

The latter is a 12-inch gold-plated phonograph record containing a variety of
sounds, 115 analog images, spoken greetings in 55 languages, printed messages
from former President Jimmy Carter and then-U.N. Secretary General Kurt
Waldheim and a selection of music.

The sounds include wind, rain, surf, a chimpanzee, a Saturn 5 rocket,
footsteps, a heartbeat, laughter, a mother's kiss and a blacksmith, among

The images range from the structure of DNA to a diagram of continental drift
and a violin with sheet music.

The record was assembled by a committee that was headed by the late astronomer
Carl Sagan.

Voyager 1 passed by Jupiter on March 5, 1979 and Saturn on Nov. 12, 1980.
Saturn's big moon, Titan, bent the trajectory northward out of the plane of
the ecliptic, the plane in which all the planets except Pluto orbit the sun.

Pioneer 10 was launched on March 2, 1972. Its mission officially ended on
March 31, 1997, but science data is occasionally sent to Earth in a training
program for flight controllers.

Barring breakdowns, Voyager I is expected to have enough electricity and
propellant to operate until about 2020. By then, the spacecraft will be almost
14 billion miles from Earth.

 AP-NY-02-17-98 2216EST

Patrick L. Kilroy                                            (ex-743)
SSPP Avionics Electrical Engineer   Phone:  301-286-1984
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center    Fax:    301-286-1673
Building 5, New Mail Code 568       E-mail: pat.kilroy@gsfc.nasa.gov
Greenbelt, Maryland  20771          Web:    http://sspp.gsfc.nasa.gov

Visit SimSat website at http://garc.gsfc.nasa.gov/~simsat/index.html