The Farthest (2017) Script


3 00:00:50,884 --> 00:00:54,263

It was more than a symbol.

This was actually of our own creation.

11 00:01:25,877 --> 00:01:27,971 It is really true that you can only explore

the solar system for the first time once.

Voyager did that.

How could one be so lucky?

It's a dream and it came true.

18 00:01:44,521 --> 00:01:45,896 50 years from now, Voyager will be the science project of the 20th century.

The mission.

The big mission.

24 00:01:57,826 --> 00:01:59,499 We didn't imagine big enough

and it opened our eyes to worlds, to real worlds.

28 00:02:09,671 --> 00:02:13,346

30 00:02:17,846 --> 00:02:20,725 It was an unworldly experience to fly through that

small little window of space and time.

It was absolutely astonishing that we were able to pull that off.

35 00:02:31,109 --> 00:02:32,860

[NARRATOR] Oh come on now.

We created an artificially intelligent spacecraft that we hurled into space.

40 00:02:43,580 --> 00:02:45,127 This may in the long run be

the only evidence that we ever existed.

When you know that about something you're working on, you treat it with great respect.

It's taking what you thought you knew and having it just spun around and you're in one universe in one moment, you're in a completely different universe the next.


♫ I'm wishing on a star ♫

♫ To follow where you are ♫

♫ I'm wishing on a dream ♫

♫ To follow what it means ♫

♫ And I wish on all the rainbows ♫

♫ That I see ♫

[NARRATOR] When it was just recently announced that Voyager One was interstellar space it was like humanity had just become an interstellar species.

It was like knocking on eternity's door.

[NARRATOR] Voyager's on the other side of the solar system and it's billions and billions of miles from the nearest other human made object.

♫ But Darwin knew would be ♫

[NARRATOR] Just think about the distance that Voyager's gone and the years that it's travelled to get there and it's still going.

♫ So far away from me ♫

[NARRATOR] Voyager made it.

Accomplished something no one dreamed it could do.

[NARRATOR] Every second it goes to another place where we have never been before.

[NARRATOR] It's all an escape trajectory.

It's not coming back.

It's just gonna keep going forever and ever, out into empty empty space.

[NARRATOR] Voyager takes the cake.

It's the most audacious mission.

Who'd have thought that we'd actually be able to do that in 1977?

♫ I'm wishing on a star ♫

84 00:04:47,996 --> 00:04:49,538 [NARRATOR] We knew a little,

because you can't observe from the earth with telescopes.

It was big.


Let's see, what did we know?

91 00:05:00,801 --> 00:05:03,260 We knew they were all gas giants.

Mostly made up of hydrogen and helium and some methane on the outer planets.

We knew that there were winds on Jupiter, we knew about the great red spot on Jupiter, we knew that there was trapped radiation, so we knew there was a magnetic field.

We knew for example that Jupiter that there were four moons.

Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto going around.

That's what convinced Galileo that Copernicus was right and that the Sun is the centre of the solar system.

Satellites of the outer planets, we knew that they were there because we could see them orbiting.

But I think everyone figured they would be just battered ice balls.

Kind of like the highlands of the moon.

Nothing but impact craters.

That view was so pervasive that they didn't even think to add any geologists to the Voyager mission.

For Saturn we knew about the rings and we knew about the major satellites.

But hardly anything more than that.

And it was all very fuzzy.

Nobody had ever been to the outer planets to speak of.

Pioneer had gone past Jupiter and Saturn but they had elementary camera.

It didn't really show very many images.

And instrumentation was not very advanced.

The Pioneer spacecraft were mostly"

"Let's see, can we send something through

"the asteroid belt, would it survive?"

There were so many things that we take for granted now we knew nothing about.

And the same was true for Uranus and Neptune.

They're very far away.

[NARRATOR] I had been staring at these planets through some of the best telescopes on earth.

And yet, all I could see was fuzzy blobs.

Uranus was a small bluish green dot in the telescope and Neptune was an even smaller bluish dot.

And that's all.

Astronomers had worked pretty hard to know what physical makeup was.

There was some basic characteristics.

But their real nature in terms of weather, in terms of distribution of mass inside, what they were really made of, what the moons were like.

We had none of that.

Just little glimpses.

[NARRATOR] There's a limit to what you can learn just looking through a telescope from earth.

There's theory but then there's unknowns.

And we're researching the unknowns.

[NARRATOR] Human beings are a curious bunch.

We wanna know what's around the corner.

We have to go past that next bend in the road.

So it's some sort of innate drive I think that we have as a species.

I think this innate desire to explore conveys an evolutionary advantage to us.

We look to improve our circumstances.

And I think that there is a feeling that our survival as a species is going to depend on our learning how to live on other worlds.

It's a very human thing to ask questions.

It's a very childlike thing to ask a million questions.


And some of us never grow up.


One of the key things that made this mission possible was gravity assist.

That is when you fly by Jupiter, you turn the corner, and you take a little bit of Jupiter's orbital speed with you.

Like a slingshot.

So you better make sure Saturn's in the right place.

We were very fortunate that we had an alignment.

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune would all line up.

It would go Jupiter boom, Saturn boom, Uranus boom, Neptune boom.

[NARRATOR] The planets had to be lined up in just the right way to allow one spacecraft to do that.

And that aligning up only occurs rarely.

It only happens like once every more than 100 years.

175 years, something like that.

Once every 176 years.

[NARRATOR] The previous time it happened exploration was wooden sailing ships.

It was named The Outer Planets Grand Tour, and the cost of the mission was estimated to be in excess of a billion dollars.

The NASA administrator went to the President, and he said "The last time the planets

"were lined up like that, “President Jefferson was sitting at your desk, "and he blew it.“ So, Mr. Nixon laughed and said "All right, just do two.“ So, only two planets.

And of course the price tag consequently was substantially less.

But we all knew that the launch was in 1977 which would be after Mr. Nixon's second term.

And of course it turned out that his term ended a lot sooner than even he thought.


[NARRATOR] Voyager started as a project in July of 1972.

And we had 11 scientific instruments, 11 different teams.

And the mission success was one spacecraft past Saturn.

[NARRATOR] But we knew right from the get go that we were going to try as hard as we could to extend the mission to go to Uranus and Neptune.

[NARRATOR] We selected trajectories to pick A target at Saturn that would give us an assist to Uranus.

And so we designed that in from the beginning.

We knew that we were endowing Voyager with the option if the chance was there to use it.


We didn't want to build anything into the design that would have prevented us from going further.

So it was a mission within a mission.




The Golden Record really is the kind of heartbeat of the ship itself.

The reason why it's going there, it's certainly exploring, but it's the lifeblood is that record.

I remember all the publicity Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft where they had some line drawings of a male and female form.

And some people went absolutely bonkers.

I don't know if you've seen it but it's the most innocent thing you can imagine.

It caused a lot of commotion.

Well I thought that was great.

Would you expect someone to find this record out there?

Is there something out there?

Well nobody knows.

One of the great unsolved questions is whether we're alone or we're.

Carl Sagan has become probably the best known scientist of the late 20th century.

He was a working scientist.

He played a key role in many of the NASA missions to the planets.

Including the Voyager One.

He's one of the scientists on the Voyager imaging team.

But he also was the astronomer who was as much as any one person, made the study of extraterrestrial life credible.

The comment by a Thomas Carlisle, a somewhat crusty old fellow who upon thinking about the stars, a sad spectacle.

“If they be inhabited, what a scope for misery and folly.

“If they be not inhabited, what a waste of space.“


Carl Sagan was a good friend of mine and I called him up and said, "Hey, would you

"be willing to undertake, to come up with something

"for us to put on the Voyager spacecraft?"

He says "Yes, sure."

And he told me he could it for 25,000 bucks.

So I authorised him to go ahead and do it and I sort of was hands off at that point.

The whole creation was his and this group that he put together.

They figured don't let this opportunity pass.

You're gonna throw a message in a bottle into the ocean, put a message in it.

And so they decided to put time capsules in those bottles.

And at first Carl thought they'd simply do another plaque, maybe with some more information.

But Frank Drake, a brilliant man.

Kind of a cross between Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison.

Brilliant theoretical physicist, but also a very hands on kind of guy who can solve practical kinds of problems.

He came up with the idea that for the same amount of weight and space, you could send a phonograph record.


The people who actually did the science part of Voyager are always jealous and mad because the Golden Record gets more attention than all the wonderful things they did exploring the outer planets of the solar system.

Except Pluto and all that.

But the main attention goes to the Golden Record.

Because of the aura that surrounds anything to do with extraterrestrial intelligent life, any kind of effort to contact extraterrestrial life is more fascinating than knowing the chemical makeup of a mineral on Mars or something.


[NARRATOR] The record is an old-style LP recording.

The only difference is it's on metal, and that's so it will last a long time.

And it was recorded at half-speed so that gave us two hours of total time.

An hour and a half of it was devoted to music and the other half hour contains all of the other data on the record, the natural sounds of Earth, the spoken greetings, and the encoded photographs of Earth.

[NARRATOR] One of the first questions a lot of people ask is, well, they'll never figure out how to play it.

And in fact, we included a cartridge and stylus in the package with the record, and the drawing on the cover of the record shows the method by which the stylus is to be placed on the record.

Maybe what's written on it will seem like kindergarten scribbles to them, but they should be able to figure it out if they've got some smart minds or whatever's in their heads, if they even have heads.

The Voyager launched at the 100th anniversary of the development of the phonograph record by Edison.

And so it was a natural medium to put the information on.

But what I find interesting is to protect it from the dust and tiny particles of the journey, they put a cover over it.

And on the cover was engraved the location of earth, our solar system in terms of it's direction from different pulsars.

A lot of people would say, "Well why would you do that?"

I said, "What do you mean?“ They said “Well why would you announce where you are?"

'Cause there are aliens out there that probably raid planets and use them for food, or eat the people, or make them slaves.

If they find it, their technology is probably more advanced than ours.

They'll come here and destroy it.

So why would you do something like that?

So if somebody did find it they would be thinking that way and they said, "Why would these people expose themselves

"to our veracious appetites or whatever it is.

"They must be very altruistic.“

The chance that advanced intelligence beyond us would detect "Oh, hey, "there is a radiating body coming into our area, "let's go out and find out what this bottle in the ocean, “what message it might have."

Now is that a grand mystery?


Well that brings up the whole question, is there anybody out there?

Listen, there are give or take

200 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.

There are about 200 billion galaxies in the universe.

Or at least in the universe we know about.

It's a pretty small spacecraft and it's a pretty big universe.

If you take a piece of sky the size of a soda straw up there in the Big Dipper, in that tiny piece of what we thought was blank sky was thousands of galaxies.

And each one of those galaxies is filled with billions of stars.

That's just the soda straw, and now you imagine the whole sky filled with thousands upon thousands upon thousands of galaxies.

Each of which is billions of billions of stars.

There's a lot of possibility out there.

If you took a grain of sand and put it on the table, and if that were the size of the Sun, then the earth would be about an inch away.

And it would be microscopic.

And the entire solar system would fit on a table six feet across.

Think about the next star.

The next star would be another grain of sand.

How far away from that solar system would you have to put that?

And it turns out to be about seven and a half miles away.

It's absolutely remarkable how much space there is between the stars and between the planets.

The distances are almost unfathomable.

These were the fastest spacecraft that had ever been built and launched and flown, and they're travelling at 10 miles per second.

You wouldn't even see it, right?

And yet, even at those unfathomable by Earth standard speeds, it takes decades, decades to get out there into the outer solar system.

We don't have any problem putting the spacecraft through the Asteroid Belt and yet at one time people think god that you were gonna crash into an asteroid.

There's not very much chance of crashing into an asteroid.

It's just a lot of room out there.

A lot of room.

If you wanna realise how empty our galaxy is, the nearest galaxy to our own is Andromeda, it's about two million light years away.

It's on a collision course with us right now.

And in five billion years that galaxy's going to collide with our own.

And you might say, oh, no, oh, no, but it turns out, space is, even in our galaxy, it's mostly empty space.

When our two galaxies collide, almost no stars will hit any other star.

It's mostly empty space.

So Voyager is likely to continue throughout our galaxy for potentially millions or maybe even billions of years without a collision.

I have a hard time with really long geological timeframes.

You just can't get your hands around how

10s of millions of years, what that really means.

And distances, astronomical distances.

Yeah, once you start getting into the astronomical scales, our solar system is pretty tiny, and so this adventure of Voyager which seems so remote and distant for this little spacecraft to go out to the giant planets is really just exploring the tiniest closest neighbourhood when you start thinking about cosmic scales.


The spacecraft were built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

It's a federal research centre that's part of Cal-Tech and they build spacecraft.

One of the things I just admire most about the engineers who built Voyager is that they're always thinking about the most improbable things happening.

You know, you want to take those people on a camping trip with you because they will think of.

Well, you've got to bring, what if these bugs come out, what if the tent gets flooded, what if you run out of gas, what if you can't start the fire, you know.

They're the what if people.

And when you're sending something out into space you can't go do a service call, you can't bring it back, so your what if list had better be like that long or you're not going to be able to survive.


These projects begin with a conceptualization period.

How feasible is it for us to do thus and so?

We didn't know what the spacecraft was gonna look like.

How do we arrange a spacecraft?

How do we take the communications system, this large 12-foot diameter fixed antenna, and arrange it relative to the propulsion system?

The spacecraft took on the dimension of being a child, and our design teams, you know, were like kind of parents.

This was actually a nurturing process.

Bringing that child, if you will, into reality.

All spacecraft were made basically of the same things.

Silicon and aluminium, that's about it.

You know, that's probably 95% of it.

Silicon and aluminium is cheap until you start making stuff out if it, you know.

The spacecraft of course is quite primitive by modern day standards.

We have three computers on board.

Their total memory is about, 240,000 times less than in your smartphone.

1972 was when you had the technology freeze.

Remember we launched in 77.

So you freeze technology several years earlier, and at the time the biggest computers in the world were comparable to the kinds of things we have in our pockets today.

And I'm not talking about a cell phone.

I'm actually talking about a key fob.

What's wrong with 70s technology?

I mean, you're looking at me, I'm a 30s technology, right?

I don't apologise for the limitations that we were working with at the time.

We milked the technology for what we could get from it.

Voyager is about 800 kilogrammes.

It's main antenna is 12 feet in diameter, which was the largest we could launch.

There's this body, this 10 sided can called the bus, and that's got all the electronics and the computers.

And that's got these arms and these appendages that stick out.

It has these feet that connected it to the rocket and then a really long arm with a magnetic field sensor on it over here and another arm over there with this plutonium power supply to give it its electricity.

You can't keep that too close to the spacecraft because it will radiate the spacecraft.

And another arm with this device that had the cameras and other instruments on it that could point around, kind of like the eyes, adn the big antenna was the ears.

When everything is fully extended to its greatest dimensions, it's comparable in size to sort of a small school bus.

It really is graceful, despite the kind of gangly appearance.

A strange-looking being for our planet, but perfectly happy in space.



I became the producer of only one record in my career, and only two copies of it were made, and they were both hurled off the earth, so I don't know if that's a credential or not.


The launch window for Voyager was set.

It had to do with an alignment of the outer planets.

You have to launch in that window.

And they sure as hell weren't going to wait for the record.

We had six weeks to do it.

And when I talk about the record I think that's what always draws the biggest gasp.

That you had to figure out a way to explain the world to aliens, and by the way it has to be finished in six weeks.


We had two goals in making the Voyager record, in terms of the music.

The first was we wanted the music to represent many different cultures around the world and not just the culture of the society that had built and launched the spacecraft.


The other criterion was we wanted it to be a good record.

[NARRATOR] It's a very idiosyncratic message.

It doesn't seem like something made by a committee.

It's too quirky.


Nowadays you work a lot on the internet than those days, it was more, sitting in the dark listening to pieces of music, making notes.


It takes a long time to go through a stack of records that's that high.

If you listen to the Voyager record, it would be remarkable if you didn't hear some pieces of music that were quite unlike anything you had heard before.

The Japanese shakuhachi piece or the 16 year-old pygmy girl singing what's called an initiation song, a kind of puberty song, In the Ituri forest of Africa is just unbelievably beautiful.

The Javanese gamelan piece is just beautiful.

The Chinese ch'in piece was the sort of thing that will never leave you.

It was a terrific mind expanding adventure.

There was a certain amount of hunting up rare records here and there.

I remember the back of an Indian appliance store in New York where they had some Indian records, and there was one copy of a raga that we ended up putting on the record.


Always the criterion was that we were trying to describe our culture.

So it would include folk music, and primitive music and Bach and Beethoven, and jazz, and all of that.

And something we wanted very much was the music of the Beatles.

And they said “No way."

And we said “Well this is all going in outer space, "it will never be heard on earth.

"No we don't do it.“

They don't licence for outer space.


I would have loved to have had a Bob Dylan piece but really there's only room for at most one contemporary rock piece.


But you know you're up against Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Geode, which Bob Dylan himself would admit is an awfully good single.

It may be just four simple words but it is the first positive proof that other intelligent beings inhabit the universe.

What are the four words Cocuwa?

Send more Chuck Berry.


The world is full of fantastic music, and it goes without saying there's a lot more great music that's not on the Voyager record than there is on it.

Which is a good thing, too, I mean, if you imagine living on a planet that was so pathetic that it only had 90 minutes of decent music.

[NARRATOR] Flight control to launch enable.


[NARRATOR] A countdown will begin in 10 minutes before midnight tonight.

[NARRATOR] A journey about to begin which will take the technology of earth out of our solar system.

When it was launched, it was of course all folded up, it was like origami.

Here was this almost unexpected encapsulation.

I mean, we knew that we were going to be encapsulated, but the emotional effect on that was kind of surprising.

I noticed that in just looking around me.

I realised that this was the last time any of us were going to see the spacecraft with eyes.

That's a fairly moving experience.

[NARRATOR] Environmental control, ready?


We actually launched Voyager Two first.

And this gave the media, drove them nuts.

We launched Voyager One later, but it was launched on a faster trajectory.

So it overtook Voyager Two in December of 1977.

From that point on, Voyager One always got to the planet before Voyager Two, and the press was happy, they understood it.

Most of the press release drawings show the other side of the spacecraft so you can't see the Voyager record.

But when the reporters came to the launch, they all wanted to know more about the record.

There was always a lot of ambiguity in NASA about this.

There's no question that the Voyager record is useless from a scientific standpoint, and the officials reluctantly arranged a press conference.


The press conference was a joke really.

It was held in a hotel room separated by one of those accordion folding barriers that you pull across to make one room into two smaller rooms.

From what was literally, as memory serves me, a Polish wedding reception.

We did the whole press conference with the oompah sound of a wedding reception next door.

But I think the public seemed to get it.


[NARRATOR] We have just had a report from John Casani, the Voyager Project Manager that we'll be able to countdown at 10:25.

[NARRATOR] They were launched on a Titan launch vehicle.

Which were intercontinental ballistic missiles for a long time.

And some of them as they were decommissioned were turned into rockets to launch spacecraft out to the planets.

[NARRATOR] Five, four, three, two, one.

We have ignition, and we have liftoff.

You see those solids ignite and you're really not prepared for what's about to occur.



The sound waves then catch up and then this forceful shaking, the body is actually moved in resonance with this energy.

Shaking it, right.


We jumped up and down.

Big hugs you know.

We're so happy to have gotten away with it.

And the rocket worked.

You never know about that either.

We were sitting in bleachers and they keep you pretty far from the launch vehicle because they can explode, and it's basically, it's a big bomb.

So there was a little bit of holding your breath and wanting to make sure you see it, get that first little motion off the pad starting into space.

We saw that going off into space, we were all thinking this thought.

There it goes and it's gonna be out there to represent us for the next five billion years.

I was a seven year old child watching it go and thinking like “Oh I had some small thing

"to do on that."

Like there's some part of me on that.

But no real significance.

But it was like, yeah okay, bye.


There were outbursts of joy.

We were on our way.

And then we launched it and then other things went crazy.

The spacecraft began to do things that we had no expectation that it would have done.

Us poor people on Earth, we're like "What is it doing?"

And as the launch vehicle leaves the launchpad, it has to roll through a certain angle to get to the right direction for departure.

And the rate that it rolls at is a much higher rate than the spacecraft would ever normally experience flying.

And so the gyro hits the stops.

It saturates.

Voyager was not in control of itself.

It's just riding this big rocket, and that was shaking it in such a way that it thought it was failing, and so it started switching off various boxes, changing to the back-up this, to the back-up that.

Trying to figure out why all this stuff was happening.

For a couple of days it was a real nail-biter.

People were asking us, "Have you lost the spacecraft" and we would say "We don't know for sure," because we didn't know for sure.

And the headline read “Mutiny in Space...

The Voyager spacecraft had decided it just didn't want to follow the instructions that its human controllers were giving it and it was going to do what it wanted to do.

Fortunately, the person who had written that code was able to say "This is okay.

"It's doing this, it tried that, “it's doing this, it tried that," and calm everyone else down.


[NARRATOR] All the time it was doing that crazy stuff it was doing exactly what we had designed it to do along.


The limits were set simply too tight.

It needed to be able to wiggle more and vibrate more.

And the telemetry length wasn't gonna be a solid as people expected.

So all of those things that had caused issues with Voyager Two then were solved for Voyager One.

[NARRATOR] Titan Centaur 6 has lifted off at 8:56 from here at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

[NARRATOR] When Voyager One lifted off, we're thinking everything's okay.

And then we begin to hear this, we call it chatter over the launch vehicle net that something wasn't right.

I looked over at him and he looked like he was a little worried.

And I said "What's the matter, Charley?"

And he says "I don't know, "I don't think we're going to make it, you know."

There was a leak in the propellant line, and we were losing propellant overboard.

So while it was burning, propellant was escaping from the launch vehicle.

And that's why second stage never got to deliver its full thrust because it ran out of fuel.

And so the upper which was a Centaur, liquid, hydrogen, and oxygen stage had to make up for that.

And the Centaur is the stage that's doing the guidance.

So the Centaur knows that it's not reaching the required velocity.

And when it separates from the second stage it knows it has to burn longer to add more velocity.

The Centaur, to achieve parking orbit, had to use 1,200 pounds of extra propellant.

Now we're all thinking, is it going to have enough left in the tanks to make a normal injection?

Or is it going to run out of fuel?

801 00:34:43,790 --> 00:34:47,376 Fortunately, it had three and a half seconds

of thrusting left before it had run to fuel depletion.

Three and a half seconds, so Voyager One just barely made it.

It wouldn't have gotten enough velocity to get to Jupiter, you know.

So instead of getting to Jupiter, you know, we'd have gotten almost to Jupiter and then we'd come back toward the Sun, which would not have been good.

812 00:35:07,272 --> 00:35:11,859 ♫ I watch the distant ♫ ♫ lights go down a long way ♫

♫ Disappear into the evening sky ♫

♫ Oh you know I'm with you ♫

♫ On your journey ♫

♫ Never could say goodbye ♫ And then of course, you know, there's the thought that it's out of our hands.

Now the major reason for this mission was about to unfold, that is the science.

But our role as keepers, as progenitors,

our role had been finished.

♫ It's just a phase you're going through ♫

♫ No I won't stop you ♫ That was moving.

(LOUD EXPLOSION) ♫ Break away ♫

♫ Fly across your ocean ♫

♫ Break away ♫

♫ Time has come for you ♫

♫ Break away ♫

♫ Fly across your ocean ♫

♫ Break away ♫

♫ Time has come ♫ It's what realising that a human life ago, less than 100 years ago, 87 years ago, the universe consisted of one galaxy, our Milky Way Galaxy.

In a static eternal universe with eternal empty space.

We didn't know about the other hundred billion galaxies a single human lifetime ago.

And we didn't know the universe was expanding and it was born in a big bang 13.7 billion years ago.

But even stranger things like the things I work on.

The fact that most of the mass of our galaxies invisible.

It's made of stuff other than you or me.

We think it's made of some new elementary particle that is actually going right through you and me right now and right through the earth without even noticing it was there.

Even stranger than that is the fact that empty space weighs something.

You get rid of all the particles and the radiation, you have nothing there and it weighs something.

And moreover, it's the dominant energy in the universe and we don't have the slightest idea why it's there.


You can never imagine.

You can try, but you can never really imagine what mother nature will actually have in store when you get there.


It seems like time really flew.

I don't think we really fully understood before the first Jupiter encounter, just how intense it was going to be.

No, we didn't.

We found out.

874 00:38:16,961 --> 00:38:18,462 It's an interesting phenomena that you

start working on a mission in 1972, you launch in 1977.

All of that, there's no science.

It's all getting ready.

And then March 79, the flood.


[NARRATOR] The encounters, they creep up on you.

We started what we call the observatory phase with our long telephoto camera, and that's when we started seeing day by day larger and larger Jupiter.

[NARRATOR] When we were approaching, every picture was the greatest picture ever taken of Jupiter.

[NARRATOR] In the beginning, it would be just a little dot getting bigger on the screen every day.

And as we would get closer and closer, the images became more dramatic.

[NARRATOR] Incredibly strange, and beautiful, and now by Voyager revealed in all of it's splendour.

[NARRATOR] We were trying to get as much detail as possible.

So a narrow angle camera was 1500 millimetres and the wide angle camera was 200 millimetres.

Would someone care to speculate what you would say to Galileo Galilei if he walked into the room today?

902 00:39:45,475 --> 00:39:47,968 How are you able to live so long?


I think Galileo.

Jupiter is more than 10 times the diameter of earth.

It's huge!

And it's mainly hydrogen and helium.

There are no solid surface on these planets.

These planets are liquid gas and liquid deep inside.

The gas is compressed the farther down you go and it gets very hot indeed.

You would melt, vaporise in fact, if you tried to fly through Jupiter.

Let me first modify your statement.

Not that it was wrong.

The atmospheric scientists got long-range views because we weren't looking at tiny moons, we were looking at the big planet, and so we could see things going on before the other groups could see things.

And we were always the first to start shouting.

[NARRATOR] Even to this day we don't fly colour detectors.

You get a much higher-resolution image in black and white.

And so when we want to make colour, we take them through different filters and then on the ground you put it together and make a colour image out of it.

That acceleration as you're approaching encounters is really something that becomes very, very exciting.

We called it drinking out of a fire hose, you know, you're trying to take a little sip, and this torrent of data is coming out.


You go to Jupiter and you have a storm that's been around for more than 300 years, that's the Great Red Spot.

You could fit two or three Earths inside it.

So here's the Great Red Spot and here's an earth and here's an earth.

It's always going around.

And I sort of assumed that the flow around these giant things would be smooth like honey.

But, when Voyager started getting close-up images, we realised that it was very active.

And that deepened the mystery of how these big storms could even exist with all this turbulence going on.

It was swallowing up clouds and spitting out others.

We knew that it was a vortex, but to see it in action...

[NARRATOR] Every day you're wondering

"Did we build the spacecraft well enough?

"Did we anticipate all the possible things

"that could go wrong?"

Pioneer 10 had to measure the radiation environment which was much greater than our earth based interpretation suggested.


You're approaching this monster essentially.

This monster magnetic field, this monster radiation environment on purpose, because you need to get close because you want to see all the little moons, and the clouds, and the storms, and you want to slingshot on to Saturn.

But you just don't know if you're going to survive.

Thing gets fried, you lose the mission.

Still out there physically intact probably, but unable to communicate with it, the mission's over.

Two months before shipping to the Cape for launch, the scientists were predicting that the magnetic fields around Jupiter were intense enough that they would accelerate particles.

Whoa, we were hearing initially 40,000 volts, that would be the end of our spacecraft.

Cabling on these appendages were conductors that would take these destroying pulses and just feed them right into our systems and kill us, so we needed to ground everything.

We didn't have time to go through the normal design reviews, so in order to get this protection done quickly enough, an ad hoe team was formed and we did some things that were out of the ordinary, very out of the ordinary.

I can remember asking one of the technicians to go out and buy aluminium foil.

It was the only material that was available to us.

Normally our procurement of spacecraft hardware supplies, materials, are a much more sophisticated process.

We're all in bunny suits actually cutting continuous strips and then cleaning them with wipes and alcohol.

And then finally wrapping these on all of our exterior cabling.

But yeah, same materials in your Christmas turkey.

I don't think we created any shortage per se.

It may have been a local shortage in the local grocery store for a few days until they reordered right.

Your turkey wrapping is protecting Voyager, and now fast forward, you know, did we know whether we had done enough?

1011 00:44:34,463 --> 00:44:37,215 Amazingly we hear all kinds of sounds.

It's a very curious phenomenon.

You don't expect the molecules up in the corner of a room to suddenly get together and start whistling at you.

But in a plasma, in this radiation belt, that can happen.

[NARRATOR] I'm gonna call them radio sounds because we have to detect them with antennas.

If you had the right kind of antennas on your ears you could go out and hear what we record.

1023 00:45:03,784 --> 00:45:05,202 Whistlers.

These things that go, (IMITATES WHISTLE) like that.

Yeah, whistlers mean lightning.

That was the first detection of lightning on a planet other than Earth.

Much more intense.

There are lightning flashes at Jupiter that would go halfway from the east coast of the United States to the west coast.

So it's fascinating what you hear in space.


[NARRATOR] When you're on a flyby mission there ain't no second chance.

We were getting pictures, they were getting better and better.

And you could begin to see detail as these moons got bigger.

You know the dread you have is that you don't want to see a lot of worlds that look like Earth's moon.

Let's face it, it's dull.

Our mind's eye was oh yeah, we're gonna see battered ice balls and so forth.

When we saw Callisto, basically it's totally hammered right?

Saturated with impact craters.

Ganymede shows a lot of interesting grooves and ridges.

But it's pretty blasted with impact craters.

And then as we went into the inner two.

You could not see craters on either one of them.

Well this was encouraging, because now we think maybe this mission is going to find a lot of diversity.

Discovering this billiard ball, smooth, icy crust of Europa with cracks in it and what looked like plates of ice that might be moving relative to each other, the best explanation for that is that there's a thick ocean of liquid water, salty water underneath that icy crust.

More ocean water than on the entire Earth, probably two or three times.

It's the largest ocean in the solar system in a moon going around Jupiter.

And then of course, you know, kind of the showstopper for Voyager, we get to Io.

[NARRATOR] Io, of course, Io was the star of the show and we didn't learn that until after the encounter.

[NARRATOR] Everyone had gone home, and Linda Morabito, an engineer whose job was to find out the positioning and the orbit of the spacecraft, noticed some bumps on images of Io.

I was on the mission as a mission navigator, and our job involved just looking back over the shoulder of the spacecraft to say, "Okay, one more picture of the realm of Jupiter."

So it wasn't high-priority work.

It was an optical navigation image, and Linda saw this strange thing on the limb.

An enormous object emerged, enormous.

And the first thing I said to myself, "What is that?!"

And I'm like it looks like another satellite in the picture emerging from behind Io.

An object that size, at that range, at that distance, would have been seen from Earth, it was sufficiently large.

I felt with certainty, it's the only thing I knew, that I was seeing something that had never been seen before.

This was an umbrella-shaped plume rising 250 kilometres above the surface of Io with volcanic activity.

1103 00:48:24,402 --> 00:48:26,861 I found the very first evidence

of active volcanism on a world beyond the Earth.

It was so hard to believe that a little moon could have 10 times the volcanic activity of Earth, which was the only known active volcanoes in the solar system were here on Earth.

And then there's Io.

Suddenly we had realised this was a different journey we were on.

I wanted to say one other thing.

We've been saying that perhaps there's some funny way in which Jupiter gobbles up all the things that are coming in and it doesn't let Io be hit by any.

Well, we aimed a spacecraft and went very close.

Had we missed we would have made the first impact crater.

1122 00:49:05,359 --> 00:49:07,361 The flyby is basically

a week-long affair that's 24 hours a day.

It's intense.

[NARRATOR] There will be a Voyager report in 30 seconds.


[NARRATOR] Instant science because there's gonna be a press conference that night.

This picture comes down, and you've got three hours to figure out what's going on and then tell the world about it.

Oh, no pressure there, right?


[NARRATOR] The confines of being a piece of biology got in the way of that.

I mean, you got hungry, you got tired, you know, you had to go to the bathroom, I mean, you're going to miss something!

You don't want to miss anything because every 48 seconds a new image would come down.


[NARRATOR] No one got any sleep during one of these flybys when the spacecraft would go zooming past.

The photo labs were working day and night, and people were sleeping in their cars.

1151 00:50:13,010 --> 00:50:16,930 [NARRATOR] It was just way too exciting to sleep.


[NARRATOR] This is the first picture every of Jupiter's ring.

1156 00:50:56,512 --> 00:50:58,810 [NARRATOR] Jupiter was really just wonderful.

It was just discovery after discovery.

You don't get something for free.

Energy and momentum have to be conserved.

So when Voyager picked up 35,000 miles an hour of speed, you actually, during that swingby, slowed Jupiter in it's orbit by one foot per trillion years.

Jupiter was a game-changer.

Jupiter reset all the registers.

Now we're really up for something.

And to know that this was just the very, very beginning of this journey.

If we're blown away by Jupiter, just wait until we get to Saturn.


Voyager to me was Homeric.

It was years of passing across the solar system from one planet to the other and then it was a week or two of frenzied activity, and discovery, and conquest, and then it was, well, back in the boats, oars in the water and then on to the next conquest.


My father was Carl Sagan, and my mother is Linda Salzman Sagan, and she's a writer and an artist and she designed the iconic Pioneer plaque.

She actually drew it, and she's the one who got all the greetings for the Voyager Golden Record.

I like to think of her, that she kind of put together a kind of a choir of voices of greetings to the stars.

1191 00:52:38,072 --> 00:52:39,864 My parents wanted a child

to have a voice of one of the voices.

And they just came to me one day and said, "Nick, if you'd like to leave a message

"to aliens if they happen to exist, "what would you like to say to them?"

1198 00:52:52,628 --> 00:52:55,797 Hello from the children of planet earth.

"Oh, hello from the children of planet earth."

That's what I would say to aliens.

They loved that and so they said, "Great, let's record you."

It's a bit of a blur.

Like the only thing that I know that I remember from that time is those knobs and the little recording level that goes into the red if you speak too much.

This 70s, kind of...

So I remember that, and I remember watching the needle move as I spoke and seeing where it got.

Oh, that got close to the red but actually didn't go into the red, okay, that's probably good.

And this not so great handwriting from age six.

Not that it's so much better now.

It says "Hello from the children of Plan-et Earth."

I think I have a little hyphen because I ran out of space for planet.

And the I was drawing something that I think I thought later was a tree but other people told me it was a rocket ship.

And I think I was more focused on my crappy drawing than I was in whatever performance of how I was gonna say this line.

And that was that.

And then I, you know, drank my apple juice and went back to my books.

It was really not till considerably later that the kind of enormity of what that meant actually hit me.

1231 00:54:11,123 --> 00:54:13,124 The reason I was chosen was that because

I'm something special.

I happen to be there at the right time at the right place.

And people knew that I speak Arabic.

So I was lucky.

I said "Why me?"

They said “Because you speak fluent Portuguese."

[NARRATOR] I didn't get any instructions about what to say.

Except that it needs to be short.

The greetings to the universe are almost like proto tweets, the first tweets.

Keep it short, keep it simple.

And I had about 5 minutes warning before I was recorded.

They said, "We're making a record

"to go aboard a spacecraft.“ And that was very intimidating.


It's not like there's a rule book for what you should say when you're greeting the universe.

1255 00:55:09,556 --> 00:55:12,642 Which means peace and happiness to everybody.

It seemed like a safe thing to say if you ran across some aliens.

Rather than saying take me to your leader or whatever.


Because equipment is cold, the spaceship is inanimate.

Even the record itself is metal.

I just wanted my voice to convey warmth and to make contact.

And it means greetings to our friends in the sky.

We long to meet you some day.


[NARRATOR] There is some piece of me that is a traveller on that ship.

It's just gone, it's just going.

Continues to go, it's gonna keep going.

When I'm long long gone it'll keep going.

And it's like a little piece of magic.

(RECORDING) Hello from the children of planet Earth

♫ In your mind ♫

♫ You have capacities you know ♫

♫ To telepath messages ♫

♫ Through the vast unknown ♫

♫ Please close your eyes ♫

♫ And concentrate ♫

♫ With every thought you think ♫

♫ Upon the recitation ♫

♫ We're about to sing ♫

♫ Calling occupants ♫

♫ Of interplanetary craft ♫

[NARRATOR] I'd like to know the answer.

Are we alone?

I'd like to know the answer to that question.

There has to be other civilizations.

The numbers just compel it.

But it would be almost statistically impossible for there not to be other life forms and other life forms that have evolved to a state of intelligence and beyond.

The bigger you think space is, the more probability there is that they're there.

The less probable it is you're gonna find them

'cause they're needles in infinite haystacks.

♫ And one night we'll make ♫

♫ A contact with you ♫ I tell you, I think that intelligent life, if we can include ourselves in it.

In that categorization.

Is so prevalent that I'll bet you at this very instant there are two people.

Probably one male and one female having exactly the same conversation that you and I are having right now.

I think that's how prevalent life is in the universe.

They're probably trying to contact us at this very minute.

I predict passing through this room right now radio messages that we could detect with equipment we could build if we knew where to aim that detector and what frequency to tune to.

And it's right here in this room.

And it's mind boggling.

They're here, they're right in the room right now.


[NARRATOR] The big division with extraterrestrial life is not space it's time.

[NARRATOR] It depends ultimately on how long our civilization lasts.

And how long civilizations last because you've got to get them to overlap for us to communicate.

In our galaxy, our Sun is relatively young.

He's about 12 million years old, our Sun is four and a half billion years old.

There are many stars that are a lot older.

Therefore you could have imagined some civilization around such a star that might have watched our Earth form over the last four and a half billion years.

Well, over that last four and a half billion years, the only evidence of intelligent life would have been in the last 50 or 60 years by watching Star Trek or I Love Lucy or whatever signals we sent out.

So even if you knew, even if someone told you look at that star, and then look at the third rock from that star, and that's where you're going to find life.

Even if they knew which object to look for, there's only a 50-year period over five billion years almost where you'd be able to find intelligent life.

If we're alone then we're truly unique, and how did that happen and why us and how are we so special and yet in such a kind of far-flung kind of humdrum part of the universe?

And if we're not alone, how did we all get here and can we learn about ourselves by these other groups out there?

What are they like and are they the creatures of our dreams or our nightmares?

I think what's gonna save us is that interstellar travel is much harder than we think.

And we're safe for quite a long time from the aliens

'cause they don't know how to travel very far either.

We're all sort of stuck on the planets we've got.

1365 01:00:17,614 --> 01:00:19,036 The thing about the Voyager mission

from Jupiter to Saturn was the short space between those.

Jupiter to Saturn went just like that.

It was really quick.


It's easy to think of Jupiter as the bully, it's the alpha male of the solar system.

No question.

I think Saturn is majestic with rings giving that sense of beauty and serenity.

And the moon's sort of subservient and somewhat pushed aside.

[NARRATOR] We started off with images that were probably no better than what you can get from the ground.

And then it keeps getting better and better and better as you get closer and closer.

What are we going to see when we get really close?

[NARRATOR] Having seen Saturn in a telescope with the rings just looking like these little tiny ears on either side, to now seeing detail and the beauty of Saturn's rings.

You know, looking like, almost like the grooves on a phonograph record.

[BELL] The rings of Saturn, what are they?

Billions of icy particles, some the size of a house.

They're enormous, much wider than many Earths strung together but less than a kilometre thick.

We get there and we find that it's a blizzard of features throughout the rings, and it got very complex.

1399 01:01:52,125 --> 01:01:54,460 We become junkies (LAUGHS).

Who, this is how you become a planetary flyby junkie, it's because you've gone through one of them and you just know it's the greatest feeling and you want to keep doing it again and again.

At some point, perhaps a year or so from now it may be possible to put all this into perspective.

But right at the moment, I cannot recall being in such a state euphoria for any previous planetary encounter.

Including our two remarkable Voyager encounters at Jupiter.

1415 01:02:57,482 --> 01:02:58,779 [NARRATOR] The largest moon of Saturn,

Titan's the most extraordinary place.

There's a dense methane atmosphere where a complex organic chemistry has been going on for perhaps billions of years, and we are in a moment of extraordinary discovery.

We had both spacecraft programmed to do identical missions at Saturn, and that was the prime mission and it involved Titan.

There's a huge amount amount of scientific interest in Titan because many people think that early in our own history, our own planet may have been like that with very little oxygen, lots of hydrocarbons, very thick, different, smoggy atmosphere that was changed dramatically on our planet by life.

So if you want to understand the starting conditions, go study Titan.

[NARRATOR] If Voyager One was successful at Titan, Voyager Two, which is nine months behind going to Saturn, would be free to continue to Uranus and to go on to Neptune.

But it depended upon Voyager One succeeding at Titan.

Because Voyager One had to be in a certain place in order to pass Titan, it couldn't go on to Uranus and Neptune.

There was just no way to bend its trajectory to go anywhere else.

Voyager Two would have done exactly that same thing if Voyager One had failed.

We would have gone like this, no more planets.

That would have been really tough.

You gonna try for Titan again and give up two other worlds, Uranus and Neptune?

[NARRATOR] So there was a lot of pressure on Voyager One.

Mostly what we looked at was a giant ball of brown smog with some sort of electric blue hazes above it.

With the Voyager camera, you couldn't see through the clouds and haze.


Now the radio signal from the spacecraft passed through the atmosphere of the planet, and that gave them a measure of the pressure at the surface and also the temperature at the surface.

And so we learned a lot about Titan from that radio signal.

[NARRATOR] Titan did not reveal itself to the camera's of the Voyager.

But the spectrometers and radio science made major contributions to the chemistry and physics of the atmosphere and the interior.

[NARRATOR] We had gathered what we could with Voyager spacecraft.

[NARRATOR] There was little to be gained by doing another close flyby of Titan.

Shortly after that, NASA Headquarters agreed that we should continue with Voyager Two on it's Uranus trajectory.

So Voyager One had succeeded.

People don't realise how we almost didn't have that mission to Uranus and Neptune.

We almost didn't have the Grand Tour if not for the success for Voyager One at Titan.

Voyager One was done and was receding from the solar system at an angle above the plain of the planets.

So Voyager One planetary mission almost ended right there.

Come back to that later.

1489 01:06:17,390 --> 01:06:19,016 We're getting pictures and other data

back from Voyager Two.

But at some point in time, it had to go behind the planet and that blocks us from getting radio signals to the earth.

And that happened to be in the middle of the night.

It appeared at times several hours that everybody knows we're gonna be out of contact with the spacecraft.

Everybody's expecting to pop champagne corks and say "Hey we made it and all the data's

"on the tape recorder."

'Cause it could be transmitted to the earth.

And instead it pops out of the other side and is all these crazy error signals coming from the spacecraft.

Something bad has happened.

1508 01:06:51,299 --> 01:06:53,884 Something happened right around ring-plane crossing,

and the images that were coming back were blank.

1511 01:07:00,266 --> 01:07:01,642 People had thought maybe it crashed

into the rings of Saturn.

Is this it, is it dead?

1515 01:07:10,568 --> 01:07:14,493 Ladies and gentlemen we can start debriefing.

I wanted to make a very brief statement.

We do have a problem onboard the Voyager Two spacecraft.

The spacecraft has a problem.

The scan platform operating mechanism is not operating properly.

[NARRATOR] And make sure we understand where we're headed if the following instruments are mounted on the platform.

The wide-angle camera, the narrow-angle camera, the infrared instrument, the ultraviolet instrument, and the photopolarimeter.

Yeah, that was the darkest, the darkest day of the whole mission.

[NARRATOR] There is circumstantial evidence.

[NARRATOR] I came into the auditorium, and there was just gloom on everybody's face.

You're beginning to speculate.

I quickly learned what had happened.

The scan platform had frozen.

[NARRATOR] We were moving our scan platform all over the sky.

And we're actually going as fast as it could possibly go.

A frozen scan platform could be a fatal, crippling event.


The rest of the Saturn mission, and Uranus and Neptune were dead.

And seeing everything that we were planning just gone, just suddenly gone.

The problem is not with the camera, it's with the articulated platform that moves all of the instruments.

Our camera is, as far as we know, are working just fine.

It's just that we're taking lots of pictures of black space.

All of the science that we had hoped to do, and Uranus and Neptune, there were no other spacecraft that were going to be going there.

It was up to Voyager to do it, and all of a sudden it looked as though Voyager was not going to do it.

It was devastating, it was.

[NARRATOR] It took a couple of days while the engineering team went to work diagnosing the problem.

[NARRATOR] We are going to command an azimuth slew and an elevation slew to the Saturn position.

It turns out the scan platform has small motors to rotate it, and we could run it at slow speed.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

Fast medium speed or very fast.

We were of course wanting to look at lots of places, so we had the thing looking lots of places, and the lubrication wasn't adequate and it just jammed.

It was frozen sort of like a car stuck in the snow.

You try to go forward or backward little bit and keep working on it and try to get it out, and that's what we did with the scan platform.

We would try to push it a little bit in one direction and it would yield a little bit, and then we'd push it in the other direction, and it would yield a little bit more, and then we kept doing that back and forth, back and forth.

And finally that was enough to get the lubrication into the gears.

It was freed up and back came the spacecraft, and back came the imaging system, and there was Saturn on exit.

1591 01:10:12,172 --> 01:10:14,251


[NARRATOR] We were looking at the shadow of Saturn on the rings.

And it was clearly from this wild, crazy angle.


Holy cow, we're on the other side of Saturn.

♫ Us ♫

♫ And them ♫

♫ And after all we're only ♫

♫ Ordinary men ♫ We felt like we were there.

Nobody even thought about it.

Voyager was part of us.


♫ Me ♫

♫ And you ♫

All of planetary exploration to me is a story about longing.

It's a longing to know ourselves.

It's a longing to understand the significance of our own existence.

It's a longing to communicate, to say to the universe we're here, you know, know us.

You know, where are you?

♫ Forward he cried ♫

♫ From the rear and ♫

♫ The front rank died ♫

[NARRATOR] How would you go about trying to communicate with a totally alien civilization?

[NARRATOR] The assumption is that we share the same physical universe.

That the laws of physics here on earth seem to be applicable everywhere.

Science and math will be something that we can communicate with them fairly easily.

Humans universally love music.

And so the record says we like this stuff.

And we sent it out as a kind of gift for you.

Beneath that there are mathematical structure.

The mathematical structure of a straight pop song is pretty simple, it's like arithmetic.

The mathematical structure of a Bach Fugue is much more complicated and rewarding to attention.

Mathematics really is a universal language.

So we did make sure that the record included music that would reward mathematical study.

1640 01:12:54,495 --> 01:12:55,542 I have concerns.

I mean we have intelligent life on our own planet.

Dolphins and whales that we don't communicate with, we cannot communicate with.

Other than tricks for fish.

It's a little conceited to think that it's gonna be like Star Trek and if we find some advance life that we'll immediately sit down for tea together or something.

It's not gonna be that simple.

1652 01:13:27,320 --> 01:13:30,620 So the Voyager record has a set of pictures on it

that depicts our civilization.

But we only had the ability to do about 100 pictures, that was as much data as we could send.

So that was kind of hard.

It was a process of distillation.

You can't describe the Earth in 100 pictures.

You can't describe the Earth in a thousand pictures.

But what art is about is taking something that's small but can represent the whole.


We thought it was very important to put some pictures of humans nude on the record to show just what our anatomy was really like.

NASA had been seriously criticised about the Pioneer plaque.

There were actually letters to the editors of newspapers saying that NASA was sending smut to space.

How are we going to show pictures of naked humans without it looking salacious?

And the answer to that was why don't you put a pregnant woman in the picture.

Because pregnant women are not considered salacious.

Not appealing sexually.

So that's what we did.

And I figured if this doesn't get passed NASA nothing's getting passed NASA.

And I guess the answer was nothing's getting passed NASA because it was the only picture that they made us take out.

[NARRATOR] Now it's five years of cruising out to Uranus.

Uranus will be the most remote object yet visited by a spacecraft.

And it's so remote it was not even known until 200 years ago.

And it's a great distance out there and if we launch directly from earth it would have taken 30 years to get there.

So we're very fortunate that we can swing by Jupiter and Saturn on our way.

I can always say that as an observational astronomer I've been trying to figure this thing out for the past 25 years and it's very frustrating in a telescope to look at that tiny little disc and try to determine anything about it.

For me the next few days are gonna be very exciting.

1702 01:15:38,284 --> 01:15:39,868

Once we got beyond Saturn, essentially the engineers threw out the rule book and said, "How are we gonna make this work?

"How are we gonna take pictures of planets

"this far from the Sun?"

Voyager was the first of a class of NASA spacecraft that could be reprogrammed.

They could take what was on the computer and just wipe it away and give it a whole new set of software.

They trained the spacecraft to pirouette like a ballet dancer.

Basically you want to take a picture of that thing and it's going past you really fast, so you spin the whole spacecraft and follow it like this.

And so even though it was darker at Uranus and really dark at Neptune, you could leave the shutter open without smearing, and that was just beautiful.

We had all of the rich set of goodies from Jupiter and from Saturn, but Uranus was unknown.

Our going on out to Uranus and Neptune that was the first time.

We just had the one spacecraft so we were more or less just flying blind and we didn't get a second chance.

1732 01:16:49,980 --> 01:16:51,856 Nor will there be a second chance.

And I think for quite some time it's very unlikely that we'll all be dead and gone before anyone goes back out there to Uranus and Neptune again.

1739 01:17:22,555 --> 01:17:24,226 [NARRATOR] It was like taking something

that was almost fictional, almost mythological, and then seeing it as a real object.

Spacecraft flew through that system like a bull's eye because Uranus is tilted on its side, with this beautiful aquamarine blue methane atmosphere, and all these pictures, every single one of them is like whoa!

And you could hear people just "Whoa!"

And everybody would be doing something and somebody would go "Whoa!"

And everybody would turn and look up.

“Oh my gosh, look at that!"


There was no Internet, there was no news stream going out to live CNN.

The only way to experience that sensation of being one of only a small group of people who saw a point of light become a world, the only way to experience it was to be in that room.

[NARRATOR] Well just about two minutes ago, Voyager Two passed through it's closest approach to Uranus.

1763 01:18:15,774 --> 01:18:18,118 [NARRATOR] The new ring is

right here.

Now, I don't...

1767 01:18:23,407 --> 01:18:25,283 You're telling me you can't see it.

I can.

Dr. Soderblom, as you whizzed through your explanation, I couldn't put it all together, could you try that again?


Slower and a few more details.

I thought that was pretty slow.

Every time we arrived at a new planet there were always surprises even though we had gotten a lot smarter.

For instance, before Voyager, all the magnetic fields have the magnetic pole near the rotation axis of the planet, and that was true for Jupiter, it was true for Saturn.

And then we flew by Uranus and the pole was near the equator.

There's been a lot of speculation about the magnetosphere of Uranus.

Would there be one, what would it be like?

And the magnetosphere of Uranus is far more weird and wonderful.

We found the planet tipped on it's side, but the magnetic field is then tipped relative to the spin axis.

So you have this huge contortion in the magnetic field as the planet spins around.

Just bizarre.

Why on earth the magnetic field was so messed up, we had no idea.

At the time the Voyager Two spacecraft flew by Uranus one pole of the planet was pointing at the Sun.

At that point in it's orbit, it's atmosphere shuts down.

So the planet itself didn't look exciting.

And part of that is Uranus itself holding it's secrets back.

That had to be, I guess, one of the, well, disappointments in that Uranus was not more photogenic than it was.

It was actually pretty blah.

Poor Uranus.


Poor Uranus.



Uranus itself was not the character that Saturn and Jupiter were.

It had very very subdued features.

The big stars of the Uranus encounter were actually the moons.


If you're going to go to Neptune, you still have to use Uranus for gravity assist.

The gravity assist aiming point at Uranus just happened to be pretty close to the orbit of Miranda.

Now some of the science, Miranda is not the largest moon of Uranus.

If Uranus has been the last stop, the scientists might have wanted to go to a larger moon, which ironically, I don't see how anything could have been any more interesting than Miranda.

1838 01:21:15,329 --> 01:21:18,082 It looked like a jumbled-up mess.

This moon looked like it had been ripped to pieces and then just sort of shoved back together again.


Come look at this.

Going up to the screen and pointing and saying, "Look at that, look at that."

Nobody was ready for Miranda.

In parts there were enormous cliffs and gashes in which fault blocks had dropped down.

And one of them, you can see the edge of a cliff that is so, it's gotta be 10 kilometres tall.

Now the gravity on Miranda is so weak that if you jumped off the edge of that cliff, you could read the newspaper on the way down.

You probably would fall for 20 minutes.

But when you hit the bottom you'd still be going 100 miles an hour.

And so it probably wouldn't, it would be the last newspaper you read.


One of the things that we have to remember about Uranus is it was a very sad time for everybody.

Because we were just about to present all our results.

We were all about to have to the big final finale press conference.

Came back from breakfast and I went to go watch the shuttle being launched.

[NARRATOR] We have main engine start.

Four, three, two, one.

And liftoff.

Liftoff of the 25th space shuttle mission and it has cleared the tower.

And we thought, "Okay great, we'll watch the shuttle

"launch and then we'll go to the press conference."

But of course that was Challenger.

[NARRATOR] Engine throttling up.

Three engine now at 104%.

[NARRATOR] Challenger, go with throttle up.

[NARRATOR] Roger, go with throttle up.



People were just like astonished, this gasp like, "Oh my.

"Did you see that?

"Did it really blow up?"

Because we had stopped in our meeting so everyone could watch it, and then there was just silence, people were crying.


[NARRATOR] Well, what can you say?

You knew right away that a bunch of people were dead.

[NARRATOR] Flight Throttle, go ahead.

[NARRATOR] RSO reports vehicle exploded.


And then of course they showed replays and replays and replays over and over and over again.

[NARRATOR] We have no downlink.

[NARRATOR] Okay, everybody, just stay off the telephones.

Make sure you maintain all your data, start pulling it together.

The Challenger accident happened as we were receding from Uranus.

I have this vivid memory of picture after picture of the crescent Uranus coming back and the replay of the Challenger explosion, and it was just devastating.

Today is a day for mourning and remembering.

Nancy and I are pained to the core over the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger.

We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country.

This is truly a national loss.

I know it's hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen.

It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery.

It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons.

The future doesn't belong to the faint hearted, it belongs to the brave.

[NARRATOR] Reports from the flight officer indicate impact in the water.

Approximately 28.64 degrees north.

80.28 degrees west.

During these closest approach time periods, we would have hundreds of reporters come to JPL, and it was great news atmosphere.

And when the Challenger exploded, everybody just left.


[NARRATOR] It was really a very sad time.

Sad ending to another great mission.


Those cosmic questions we hope to learn by sending our machines out, the very same questions that you and I and every child has asked themselves.

"Where do we come from, are we alone, "what's the universe made of, how will it end?"

All of these basic questions are the questions that drive science.

I do cosmology, I study the beginning and end of the universe and sometimes people say, "What's that good for?"

And I always say to them, "You don't ask what's a

"Mozart symphony good for?

"Or a Picasso painting.“ But science somehow seems in order to be useful for people it has to produce technology.

But the beautiful thing about science is the ideas.

From a child you ask your parents why.

But when you grow up you finally realise that what you really mean is how.

Einstein has told us that us that space and time are tied together.

Integrally, we live in a space time.

If our universe came into beings and space popped into existence, then so did time.

And so time itself may not have existed literally before the big bang.

So there was no before.

And that seems crazy, because if there was no before, all these ideas of cause and effect et cetera go out the window.

But all it means is that we'll have to change the way we understand things.


Another possibility is that our Big Bang is just one of an infinite number of Big Bang's that are occurring in what we now call a multiverse.

It's an amazing change of view which makes us yet even more insignificant.

We were insignificant enough travelling around the Sun in the middle of nowhere around a random galaxy amongst 100 billion galaxies, but now we know that even the whole universe that we call home may just be an insignificant something in the midst of something much bigger.

The history of science is to remove us ever further from the centre of the universe if you wish.

Or the centre of the action.


Finally at Neptune, Voyager's begun the last of a decades worth of encounters with the outer planets.

It was another three and a half years to get out to Neptune.

They had to reprogram the spacecraft again, give it, teach it some new tricks, to work in this even darker environment, even colder environment.

[NARRATOR] If we take the Earth being one astronomical unit from the Sun, or AU for short.

Neptune is 30 times that distance.

[NARRATOR] When we launched Voyager, there was no capability to get any images back from 30 AU.

That capability happened all after launch.

It involved reprogramming the spacecraft, taking two 34-meter antennas and adding them to a 70-meter antenna.

[NARRATOR] Copy, we're ready to run that observation.

[NARRATOR] It meant using the entire very large array in New Mexico, 27 antennas to collect the very weak signal that we could get back from 30 AU.

The flybys past Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, had sped up the spacecraft too, so it's going even faster.

So enormous amounts of pressure, and one shot.


[NARRATOR] There it was just sitting out on the edge of our solar system waiting for somebody to come out and appreciate its beauty.

Just waiting for the day that humans would get out there, and go "Wow!“

[NARRATOR] Neptune was photogenic right from the beginning.

[NARRATOR] I had been taking pictures of Neptune from the ground where we couldn't see very much.

You know, in my head imagining what it might look like and seeing that turned into reality, it's a rush.

Looking at this blue, bright blue orb.

In some ways it was evocative of the Earth, which seemed very bizarre for the last planet that we were flying by.


I was a meticulous log taker and I would make little notations in these logs and I would draw little pictures, and you could see what's this little dark spot, bright clouds, I'm like wow!


Exclamation point!

And I'd draw pictures and arrows.

The most surprising thing was a giant dark spot.

Nobody had any idea that would be there.

It's huge!

It's like a hole in the planet.

So we called it The Great Dark Spot because we're not very original when it comes to names.


We had to basically make a forecast of the storms on Neptune in order to point the cameras during the last day.

And at the same time there was a hurricane off the east coast of the US, and the weather forecasters were trying to forecast that hurricane.

2060 01:30:32,261 --> 01:30:33,432 But they were trying to forecast it 12 hours in advance and they were having a lot of trouble because the storm kept changing position.

And we were just calmly plotting points on graph paper and then say, “Okay, two weeks from now, "this storm is going to be right here" and it usually was.

2069 01:30:53,531 --> 01:30:56,033 At Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus,

the goal was to do a flyby that would take the spacecraft on to the next planet.

When it came to Neptune we knew that that was the last planet that we were going to fly by, and so we could take a different trajectory.

This allowed us to get a really spectacular view of the rings and then look back on the system in a way that was quite beautiful.

Think about imaging the rings of Neptune.

They have reflectivity which is twice as dark as soot, and the light that's falling on them is 1,000 times fainter than on Earth.

So you have one one-thousandth the light and you're trying to image something which is twice as dark as soot against a jet-black background.

More than one ring could be seen even in the raw images.

The so-called ring arcs.

And it seemed reasonable that this was indeed the lost arc that our imaging team raiders were looking for.

Now you're going to turn on me, right?

2098 01:31:59,139 --> 01:32:01,140 [NARRATOR] We knew at Neptune

we wanted a close flyby of Triton, which was a huge world and a retrograde orbit around Neptune.

If you looked at them on the way in, they weren't lined up.

One's up here and one's down here.

And so, what are you going to do?

Well, there was a way.

And the way was to fly over the north pole, very close to Neptune to bend the spacecraft so it would go down.

And then intersect Triton.

But that meant getting to within just a few thousand miles of the cloud tops.

Which is like skimming the surface.

And they had to hit that, you know, exactly right.

There was a lot of concern that we didn't know enough about Neptune's atmosphere to really be sure that the spacecraft would not tumble.

It's also possible that there were particles in these ring arcs that we might go through a cloud of shrapnel.

And that would be the end of the spacecraft if We did that.

Just a slight error in the calculations and instead of skimming across the cloud tops, you're skimming into the clouds and the spacecraft burns up.

Slight error the other way, you go a little too far, you don't bend enough, maybe you run right into Triton and crash, and that's the end of the mission.

You don't have enough time, you have to make your last best guess, hit the send button.

2137 01:33:23,515 --> 01:33:24,979 It would have been just fascinating to be hanging on to that spacecraft, right?

Skimming over these beautiful blue cloud tops of Neptune.

And then as you come over the pole of Neptune seeing that big moon Triton rise up...


After several billion miles of journey to get us to within a few kilometres of where we needed to be, it's just absolutely remarkable.

You know, threading an incredible needle.

Southern hemisphere of Triton is entirely covered with nitrogen ice.

And as we flew past, here we go again.

As we flew past, we were able to look down at markings on the surface of the polar cap.

We were putting together a mosaic of Triton's globe, but we couldn't get things to line up quite right.

Some of the dark streaks, two in particular would not line up.

He's like just scratching his head, like I have no idea what's going on here.

This guy's one of the world's experts on anything having to do with planets and moons, and he can't figure this out?

The only crazy idea that's left is eruptions.

I said "Well let's put it in stereo viewer."

Red and blue glasses.

And the images fused into a three-dimensional model and up popped these geysers.

2173 01:34:56,983 --> 01:34:59,193 And I said "Holy moly!"

And so we knew what we had.


These plumes.

Black geysers spewing out this stuff.

The plumes extending out of the surface for like kilometres.

We were We were seeing eruptions on a world which should have been just a frozen cinder.

The last place we would have expected to see further dynamics, further eruptions was at a moon this remote in the solar system.

This is at 37 degrees above absolute zero.

So there's solar driven geysers on a satellite that's 30 astronomical units from the Sun.

Who would have thought?

Just because in idea is crazy it's not necessarily wrong.


We knew this was the last planet, Voyager would explore before it headed on for the rest of its journey.

And so I think the times together as a team, the times to look at the pictures, talk, meet together, became more precious.

I was passing by the secretary's desk and she said, "Oh, Candy, there's a reporter

"that wants to talk to you.“ And he said, "The countdown clock

"just went from minus, "counting down, to counting up.

"Voyager's now leaving Neptune."

And he said “How does that make you feel?"

And in that moment, I dissolved into tears.

After the spacecraft went past, it turned around and looked back, and there's this beautiful crescent Neptune and Triton, and people realised that's the end of the planetary part of Voyager.

That's the last port of call, the last thing we'll see in our solar system is now behind us.

And it went from the Voyager planetary mission to the Voyager interstellar mission.

Of all the images that was one of the most poignant because it was out goodbye or farewell image.

We could have enhanced the colour a bit to make a somewhat prettier picture but, out of respect to the Voyager spacecraft we decided to show it to you just as it is.


So this was Voyager's farewell to us and that's our farewell to you.

The way I looked at it was see, we did something really great.

Very, very successful mission.

A little weepy.

I mean there was a lot of energy put into this mission.

[NARRATOR] We have ignition and we have lift-off!


Years of intense effort.

It was the end of a sentimental journey.

We did it.

We pulled it off.

And that's important.

It is.


[NARRATOR] We had a big party at JPL, so that was a good send off for Voyager.

With a little sarcasm I'll say that JPL's the greatest moment was when Chuck Berry was on the steps of our administrative building doing the duck walk to Johnny B. Geode.

Chuck Berry, he was present at the Neptune encounter celebration singing Johnny B. Goode.

The star of the party, Chuck Berry came out from behind the wall of building 180 and played Johnny B. Goode live.

Everybody started dancing and it was fabulous.

Ed Stone was dancing to Johnny B. Goode.

It was something to see.

Everybody was dancing.

[NARRATOR] Rockstar moment and sail on Voyager.

♫ Go ♫

♫ Johnny B. Goode ♫ And I'm gonna go get some sleep or maybe I'll do a little more dancing.

Thank you very much, Lou?


Meanwhile Voyager One is still kind of cruising out there, getting farther and farther out, and a number of folks on the team, including Carl Sagan, had this idea that before we have to shut the cameras down, let's turn around, look back towards the Sun and let's take a picture of our solar system unlike any that had ever been taken before.

And there was actually opposition to it.

They just didn't want to do it!

They couldn't get their heads around what would be the point of taking a picture of the Earth and Jupiter and so on because they're just going to be little points of light.

So Carl being Carl actually went all the way to the NASA administrator and got the NASA administrator to direct the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to take this series of pictures.

Absolutely zero science in it.

Absolutely none.


[NARRATOR] People had been taking selfies of our planet for as long as the space program's been going on.

No one had ever taken one like this.

And they ended up on Valentines Day 1990, taking this beautiful family portrait.


When we did our portrait of each of the planets, I was the first person to look at the pictures and I knew every blemish, and so I could pretty quickly go blemish, blemish, blemish.

And I thought, "Well, where's the Earth?"

How could we, you know?

And then I realised there was a lot of, there were a lot of streaks of light in that image, and I realised finally that the Earth was sitting in one of those rays of light.

You know, I just sat there for a while just kind of realising

"Wow, that's the Earth, you know, “that's Voyager looking back at the Earth."

And then once I had sort of recovered, I started calling people.

I called Brad.

Brad, "We got it."

Called Carl, “Carl, we got it.“ Called my dad.


And so this is a different kind of milestone than the scientific milestones we've had.

One that is really symbolic.

I'm an imaging scientist, so I first realised, oh, this didn't turn out the way we thought it was going to turn out, and my first impulse is to take my hand and wipe away the dust, because there was some dust on it.

Well, one of the pieces of dust that I wanted to wipe away was the Earth.

But it didn't matter because in the hands of Carl, he turned it into an allegory on the human condition.

And the next slide.

The Earth in a sunbeam.


And in this colour picture you can see that it is in fact less than a pixel, and this is where we live, on a blue dot.

On that blue dot.

That's where everyone you know and everyone you ever heard of and every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives.

I think this perspective underscores our responsibility to preserve and cherish that blue dot, the only home we have.

My father talks about this little tiny speck in this vast cosmic night.

And that we're part of something bigger.

And we're also alone.

There's a great thing where he says like

"There's no sign that any help is gonna

"come here to save us from ourselves.

“It's up to us."



After Neptune the project continued but it continued in quite a different way.

The Voyagers didn't have anymore encounters.

They were just sailing on out into interstellar space which people didn't really understand how far that was gonna be.

At the time we were designing Voyager, interstellar space, where the boundary was, was totally unknown.

We had our eyes on the interstellar mission.

Are we going to boost the spacecraft to get out of our solar system and into the galaxy?

It was a shot in the dark because nobody knew how far.

Uncharted waters.

[NARRATOR] Goldstone, Voyager race.

[NARRATOR] Voyager race, Goldstone.

[NARRATOR] Please turn command modulation on at 1800.

[NARRATOR] Goldstone copies 1800 for command.

[NARRATOR] That is affirmed.



We know the Sun has this gravitational influence that goes way out, almost halfway to the nearest star.

So in terms of gravity, the edge of the solar system is gonna take Voyager 10s of thousands of years to get there.

But, the magnetic field of the Sun can only extend so far.

It's a bubble around our star.

All the stars have bubbles.

We can see the bubbles run other stars out there.

So we know that they have bubbles.

Where's our bubble end?

Where's the influence of the Sun and it's magnetic field give way to the galaxy?

[NARRATOR] We kept going and years went by and years went by and we don't detect the interstellar medium.


Throughout the 1990s, still didn't find the edge of the bubble.

Throughout the 2000s, still didn't find the edge of the bubble, and then finally in 2012 Voyager One, which is going the fastest, which is the farthest, started to see these funny things happen to the squiggly lines.

Did the magnetic field of the Sun change direction?

Change the kinds of particles it was trapping dramatically?

And they see this crazy spike.


Everybody goes, "Oh, is that it?"

And then it goes back to normal.

And then it was just literally one magical day, it was in August of 2012 that everything changed.

And it was like pffft, just popped out of the bubble.

Voyager One has left our solar system.

It's the first thing built by humans that has left our solar system and now it's in interstellar space.

[NARRATOR] Major historic announcement by NASA just a short time ago confirming the Voyager spacecraft, Voyager, as in the thing that launched way back in 1977 exploring the moons, exploring the planets.

Well it has entered interstellar space.

[NARRATOR] NASA says that Voyager One has become the first manmade object to reach interstellar space.

The cold dark region between stars.

[OBAMA] And we've slipped the outermost grasp of our solar system with Voyager One.

The first human-made object to venture into interstellar space.


It's a wonderful achievement, actually.

When you think of it, it's historic, it's our first step out of our bubble which has been around all the planets and around the Earth essentially forever.

And now finally some little thing that we have built has left that bubble and is in the space between the stars.

I loved it when that happened.

It was like humanity has arrived into interstellar space and we all feel like Voyager has carried a bit of us into the galaxy.

It is the little engine that could.

It's the little spacecraft that keeps on going and going and going and nobody really knows how it does it.

But everybody's rooting for it.



There's never gonna be another mission like it.

It was the first and last of it's own kind.

Voyager is rarely out of my thoughts.

Always some little part of me is wondering where is Voyager tonight?

Whenever I look up at the night stars, I look in the direction that each of them is going.

We're the generation that sent something out into space that's not only going to outlive us, it's going to outlive our star.

Four billion years from now when our Sun turns into a red giant, Voyager is still going to be trucking out there through the stars, and the songs of our time are going to be out there.

Chuck Berry is still out there.

We'll still be out there.

When the Voyagers' power sources go dead and when the spacecraft can no longer send back any useful information, that's really the point at which the Golden Record becomes the primary function of those missions.

That when everything else is turned off, those records are still floating somewhere in interstellar space, completing the last part of the mission.


♫ Go daddy go go ♫

I think that the spacecraft itself is the message.

The technology of the spacecraft, the radio isotope power system, the communication system, the instruments, all of those things are carrying a message that says the people who built this knew what they were doing.

Is the any different or our solar system today than it was then?


But are we different?


The thrill of the discoveries, reaching the heliopause, completing the Grand Tour, I mean man, our child has just made it.

Voyager One and Voyager Two will be orbiting the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy with all the stars.

And every 200 and roughly 50 million years it will complete an orbit around the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy.

There's no wind, water, rain, weathering.

There's no planets that they're going to run into, there's no asteroid belts or comets that they're gonna run into.

And over thousands, millions, billions of years they're predicted to remain pretty intact.

From Voyager's standpoint, the Sun is just the brightest star in the sky.

Not by very much.

Years to come it will fade into being just one of all the other stars in the galaxy.

And from time to time over the aeons a star will sort of approach and get brighter and then it'll get dimmer again.

It's like being in a lifeboat on the Atlantic at night.

Maybe you see a distant ship pass, maybe you don't.

That's the future of Voyager for billions of years to come.


All of the human tragedies and the worries and concerns that drive you and I and everyone will be long forgotten.

And our existence as a species and the greatest triumphs, the things that people think of are the most important things in their life, all of that's gonna be forgotten.

And the universe doesn't care about it.

But it's possible that at least one thing we've created will be out there.

And who knows, maybe some day with an infinite small chance another being might find it and at least know of our existence.

It's highly unlikely, but it's not impossible.

And that small possibility surely gives us hope.

We will continue to get signals back from Voyager and we will continue to try and get signals back from Voyager as long as we can.

There will be a day when the antennas are listening to Voyager and we don't hear anything.

And that will be the day that we stop communications with Voyager.

And that will be very sad.

'Cause whether it's 45 years, or 55 years, or 50 years from when we launched it, it'll be very very sad.

'Cause it will have gone silent.

And we really won't have a chance to say goodbye.


♫ You won the race ♫

♫ We've claimed our place ♫

♫ Forever cold ♫

♫ And lost in space ♫

♫ We've won the race ♫

♫ We've claimed our place ♫

♫ Forever cold ♫

♫ And lost in space ♫

♫ Our mind is in a daze ♫

♫ My thoughts will start to fray ♫

♫ Forever cold ♫

♫ And lost in space ♫

♫ I feel I'm going down ♫

♫ There's no more solid ground ♫

♫ Forever cold ♫

♫ And lost in space ♫

♫ Nobody ever told me ♫

♫ I need someone to hold me ♫

♫ Forever cold ♫

♫ And lost in space ♫

♫ I hear an evil sound ♫

♫ It comes from all around ♫

♫ Forever cold ♫

♫ And lost in space ♫

♫ We've won the race ♫

♫ We've claimed our place ♫

♫ Forever cold ♫

♫ And lost in space ♫

♫ We've won the race ♫

♫ We've claimed our place ♫

♫ Forever cold ♫

♫ And lost in space ♫

If an alien was to hear my voice and I would know that he heard my voice.

He or she or it heard my voice, I would cheer.

I would be jumping up and down with ecstatic.

What did you say?

How to...



[NARRATOR] I called her a her.

I see that.

I wouldn't do that.

That's popular nowadays but I personally do not like to answer parmodify spacecraft.

They don't like it.

2628 01:55:06,108 --> 01:55:08,327 Okay, now I've always wanted to do this.

Are you ready?

23 take seven.

2632 01:55:18,620 --> 01:55:19,462 Voyager.


♫ I saw ♫

♫ The day ♫

♫ Where we all walked ♫

♫ Away ♫

♫ I saw ♫