Voyager 2, How I Miss You

Mar 2nd, 2009 | By | Category: Scientific Disciplines


Early in 1986, I snuck out of bed and turned on the ancient black-and-white television set close to my bedroom. Only eight years old, I sat down to watch a PBS special. The Voyager 2 spacecraft was about to send back the first close-up pictures of the planet Uranus.

Even at that young age, I understood I was enjoying a legacy of a prior era, a gift from a different time for the country. This was Regan’s America, dominated by stupidity and greed, inward thinking and striving. It wasn’t a time suited for anyone bookish, nerdy and dreaming.

And yet, there I was lying on brown carpeting, watching excited engineers and scientists catch their first glimpse–anyone’s first glimpse–of a distant planet. Men and women has created this carefully machined work of functional art, and precisely calculated a trip skittering along the vast wells of gravity dotting our solar system. It was magnificent. I wanted to join those men and women, to bring other such creations into the universe.