William Shatner Beamed a Message to NASA's Voyager 1 for its 40th Anniversary

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 - 7:25PM
Space
Solar System
NASA
Tuesday, 05 September 2017 - 7:25PM
William Shatner Beamed a Message to NASA's Voyager 1 for its 40th Anniversary
NASA
Like him or tolerate him, William Shatner is one of the biggest voices in science fiction culture. Playing Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek television series, and yelling "Khan!" so loud that it could be heard from that planet's orbit, was enough to make him synonymous with many elements of stargazing speculative fiction.

Shatner is not, however, normally a name that's associated with the word "Voyager" - Kate Mulgrew probably would have been a more fitting choice - but while he may not have been the captain of the Starfleet ship that bears this particular name, he has now received the honor of beaming a message up into the stars in part of a celebration of the very real Voyager probe's fortieth birthday.

NASA's Voyager 1 space probe first took to the stars on September 5, 1977. Now, forty years later, NASA has commemorated the occasion by selecting a tweet from one of their followers that has been sent out to let the little probe know just how much we care about it.



In a competition that encouraged social media users to tweet a message using the hashtag #MessageToVoyager, Oliver Jenkins' tweet was chosen by popular vote (from a curated list, so that Boaty McBoatface couldn't win this poll) to represent our thoughts and feelings about the anniversary. His winning message speaks of hope for a united universe:

Opening quote
"We offer friendship across the stars. You are not alone."
Closing quote


This, having been selected, was then read aloud by Shatner, whose voice was broadcast out into space, having been encoded into 488 bits so that it will be registered by Voyager as a command message.

In addition to broadcasting Jenkins' tweet, NASA also beamed out a recording of the Golden Record that was included with Voyager when it left our planet, which contains a message of wellwishing from our planet to anyone who might find it and manage to decypher our audio recording protocols.

Voyager 1's initial mission took place four decades ago, but its findings informed much of our understanding of our own solar system, including the planets of Jupiter and Saturn. As the probe is still traveling further and further from Earth, it'll take 19 hours for William Shatner's voice to reach the probe, after which the signal will continue for centuries as it bounces out among the stars.

Who knows? Perhaps one day it'll be heard by someone else out there in the universe, and in addition to being a science fiction icon on Earth, Shatner will also become a significant element of our species' legacy on a faraway alien world.

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