In 1977, NASA launched two probes into space, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, which also hold records on existing gramophone records. Since then, these devices have flown to distant planets in the solar system and seen them with completely different eyes. It showed us what the Earth looks like, this “pale blue dot” from a distance of about 6 billion kilometers and became the most distant objects that mankind has ever created.
It has been almost 45 years since the probes went beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. Now each of them is already moving beyond the solar system and after so long is still functioning. It is hard to imagine, but the maximum duration of missions was initially considered to be just 4 years. But the space voyage of these ships exceeded all expectations.
Unfortunately, such endurance of Voyagers is not permanent, their life is slowly coming to an end. NASA is gradually shutting down various spacecraft systems or equipment. The agency made a similar decision in the hope that it would extend the operation of the probes until 2030.
The fact is that the thermoelectric generators of the radioactive chemical element, plutonium isotopes, can no longer supply enough energy to the apparatus. As a result, this resource is reduced by 4 watts per year in the systems. Therefore, more and more instrument shutdown becomes necessary.
Before Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are fully shut down, a few more years are ahead. And then each of them will move in space without a connection to Earth, and who knows, maybe one day, in the distant future, our voice (literally) will reach an unearthly civilization.