16 May 2010

Voyager spacecraft's invitation answered?

The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts were launched into space in August 1977 to explore Jupiter and Saturn. Both have travelled beyond the orbit of Pluto, which was re-categorised as a dwarf planet in 2006. Having accomplished its original mission, both spacecrafts continued travelling into space, transmitting data back to Earth.

Until now.

On 6 May 2010, NASA reported changes in the data being received.

Engineers have shifted NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft into a mode that transmits only spacecraft health and status data while they diagnose an unexpected change in the pattern of returning data. Preliminary engineering data received on May 1 show the spacecraft is basically healthy, and that the source of the issue is the flight data system, which is responsible for formatting the data to send back to Earth. The change in the data return pattern has prevented mission managers from decoding science data.

The first changes in the return of data packets from Voyager 2, which is near the edge of our solar system, appeared on April 22. Mission team members have been working to troubleshoot and resume the regular flow of science data. Because of a planned roll maneuver and moratorium on sending commands, engineers got their first chance to send commands to the spacecraft on April 30. It takes nearly 13 hours for signals to reach the spacecraft and nearly 13 hours for signals to come down to NASA's Deep Space Network on Earth.

Voyager 1 and 2 also included an open invitation to visit Earth through the Golden Record.
NASA placed a more ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2-a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record-a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth.

Once the Voyager spacecraft leave the solar system (by 1990, both will be beyond the orbit of Pluto), they will find themselves in empty space. It will be forty thousand years before they make a close approach to any other planetary system. As Carl Sagan has noted, “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.”
Reported by newspaper Bild, German 'alien' expert Hartwig Hausdorf was quoted as saying (after translation) “It seems almost as if someone had reprogrammed or hijacked the probe – thus perhaps we do not yet know the whole truth…” - „Es scheint fast, als hätte jemand die Sonde umprogrammiert oder entführt – vielleicht, damit wir noch nicht die ganze Wahrheit erfahren ...“

An interesting speculation.

Bild could be considered to be sensationalist. Hausdorf, author of Ufos – Sie fliegen noch immer (UFOs – They Are Still Flying) has made other speculative claims.

We can only wait. Until the invasion.

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