May 21, 2024

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NASA scientist who saw first traveler photos had 'goosebumps'

NASA scientist who saw first traveler photos had 'goosebumps'

When the Voyager spacecraft first sent back images from Jupiter's moon Io, the NASA scientist who was the first to view them said they gave him chills.

It was billions of miles away from Earth, and it changed everything.

Alan Cummings was a NASA scientist on the project, and what he saw in 1979 has stuck with him ever since.

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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is managed by Caltech Research University in Pasadena, California, United States.

There, cosmic ray physicist Cummings saw an unprecedented moon filled with lava-flowing volcanoes.

“I thought the Caltech students made a joke,” Cummings said. Mashable.

“But no, it was real.”

X/ National Air and Space Museum

Jupiter's moon Io, unlike our barren moon, is the most volcanic place in our solar system – volcanoes can be seen erupting in one image.

“It gives me goosebumps, even now,” he admitted.

The two Voyager spacecraft were launched in 1977 Built to last five years.

They have now been in space for nearly 50 years despite a few glitches that were quickly fixed.

They are 15 and 12 billion miles apart, respectively.

X/NASA Voyager

“This is the only spacecraft that has ever been there,” Cummings said.

However, the final malfunction of the aging spacecraft may be the end of the long mission.

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Back in December, NASA reported A problem with the flight data system that engineers are still trying to solve.

They can send messages to Voyager 1, but “no scientific or engineering data is sent back to Earth.”

As scientists study recent “readings”, hoping to find a solution, scientists are worried.

X/NASA Voyager

It is believed that communications will be cut off in the mid-2030s.

The Voyager missions were originally designed to explore Jupiter and Saturn.

Scientists watched Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere, with belts of vibrant clouds moving in alternate directions and teeming with Earth-sized storms.

“We were shocked and amazed” Cummings said.

Along with volcanic Io, the mission captured views of ice-covered Europa.

Scientists suspect a salty ocean 40 to 100 meters (60 to 150 kilometers) deep beneath its ice.

Another NASA probe will soon leave Earth to explore Europe.

Both rovers then continued their journey to Saturn to capture in detail its rings and strange moons.

At this point, Voyager has taken different paths through the solar system.

Voyager 1 continued on its way to the far reaches of the galaxy, while Voyager 2 went to Uranus and Neptune.

Cummings saw Uranus's icy, grooved moon, Miranda, and Neptune's strange moon, Triton, from 3 billion miles away.

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Voyager 2 detected maximum surface temperatures of -391 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 235 degrees Celsius) but the surface spewed out miles-high plumes of icy material from geysers.

In 1990, NASA engineers planned to turn off Voyager 1's cameras to save power.

But the space agency has captured a final set of shots of distant planets, much like a lunar lander.

This includes a view called the “pale blue dot” – a view of Earth from 3.7 billion miles (6 billion km) away.

“Look again at the point. This is here. This is the house. This is us,” said the famous cosmologist Carl Sagan.

Both spacecraft have now entered interstellar space, the region between the stars.

They are sending unprecedented information about radiation into the unknown area.

“The science data that Voyager returns becomes more valuable the farther it gets from the sun, so we're certainly interested in keeping as many science instruments running for as long as possible,” Linda Spilker, Voyager project scientist, said. He said newly.

Cummings hopes the remaining instruments will remain online for a few more years before continuing indefinitely with the “time capsule” on board.

NASA explains that the goal of this project is to “tell the story of our world to aliens.”

“Voyager’s message is carried by a phonograph record, a 12-inch gold-plated copper disc containing sounds and images selected to depict the diversity of life and culture on Earth,” they said.

NASA continues to amaze with the images sent back by its spacecraft.

When asked if the Voyager mission would last longer, Cummings' answer was simple.

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“It will.”

Some of the images in this feature were created using artificial intelligence.