Voyager 1 and 2. Covering a million miles a day, these two crafts are still humming along. After 40 years of travel, they still gather data, and some of the original crew still watch over them… even if they do so from a simple office park in Pasadena.
Reading about Steve Howard, 65, the man who’s in a group of people controlling the space crafts from 16 light hours away, is quite humbling. Voyager 1 took a “family photo” of the solar system 25 years ago and in 2036, will shut down. Most sensors will do so long before the nine 2025 as its Plutonium-238 reactor dwindles into nothingness, but an eleven more years is still an impressive feat.
Howard will be 90 by then. There isn’t much of a change either Voyager will find anything super interesting until 40,000 years from now, when they’ll be dead metal and nothing more.
The next time you complain your internet is slow, think about Steve and his 17/34 hour round-trip transmission time from his computer, through the Deep Space Network, to Voyager 1.