HomeReportsWhat the Voyager space probes can teach humanity about immortality

What the Voyager space probes can teach humanity about immortality

Scientists expect the Voyager spacecraft to outlive Earth by at least a trillion years. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech)

This article was originally published at The Conversation. (opens in new tab) The publication contributed the article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

James Edward Huchingson (opens in new tab), Professor Emeritus and Lecturer in Religion and Science, Florida International University

Voyager 1 is the farthest human-made object from Earth. After sweeping by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, it is now almost 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) from Earth (opens in new tab) in interstellar space. Both Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, carry little pieces of humanity in the form of their Golden Records (opens in new tab). These messages in a bottle include spoken greetings in 55 languages, sounds and images from nature, an album of recordings and images from numerous cultures, and a written message of welcome from Jimmy Carter, who was U.S. president when the spacecraft left Earth in 1977 (opens in new tab).

Each Voyager spacecraft carries a Golden Record containing two hours of sounds, music and greetings from around the world. Carl Sagan and other scientists assumed that any civilization advanced enough to detect and capture the record in space could figure out how to play it. (Image credit: NASA/Wikimedia Commons)

The Golden Records were built to last a billion years in the environment of space, but in a recent analysis of the paths and perils these explorers may face, astronomers calculated that they could exist for trillions of years without coming remotely close to any stars.

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