Melt Your Brain is a series of videos where we reveal facts that may well make your brain feel like it is melting!
In Everyone Will Be Dead By The Time Aliens Reach Us, we take a look at how likely it is that aliens might find us on Earth – but to do that, we need to learn a little more about space exploration…
The Voyager Space Missions
The Voyager program is a continuing American scientific program that uses two robotic probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, to study the outer solar system.
The Voyager probes are actually the most distant man-made objects in the universe. Voyagers 1 and 2 were two unmanned spaceships which were launched in 1977 to take advantage of a favourable alignment of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, to explore the outer solar system. Their primary mission was to explore Jupiter and Saturn and to send those images back to earth. However, their mission has been extended three times since then, with Voyager 2 continuing on to Uranus and Neptune. Both Voyagers have continued on into interstellar space – those bits of the galaxy that are between solar systems. They are now exploring the outer boundary of the heliosphere in interstellar space. Both probes continue to collect and relay useful scientific data.
In 2012, data from Voyager 1 indicated that it had become the first human-made object to enter interstellar space, travelling “further than anyone, or anything, in history”. Voyager 2 is expected to enter interstellar space any time now (2016). Data and photographs collected by the Voyagers’ cameras and other instruments have revealed previously unknown details about each of the giant planets and their moons, while Voyager 2 is still the only spacecraft to have visited Uranus and Neptune!
The Pale Blue Dot
Having completed their initial mission in 1990, Carl Sagan, an American astrophysicist who worked for NASA, got Voyager 1 to turn around and take a photo of the earth – and because it was so far away by then, the earth was suspended in a sunbeam and it was less than one pixel big! That photo is known as the Pale Blue Dot.
The Golden Records
Aboard both spacecraft, are the Voyager Golden Records – these are gold-plated phonograph records carried in the event that either spacecraft is ever found by intelligent life-forms from other solar systems. The records contain lots of images of humanity, scientific information, spoken greetings in 55 languages and a collection of sounds including: whales, crying babies and Mozart music! Believe it or not, there is also a space map, which would theoretically allow alien races to find earth! So if the aliens did want to invade, they’d know exactly where to find us…
Will the aliens ever find us?
Right now, Voyager 1 is over 20 billion km from earth. At its current speed, it would take Voyager 1 over 260 thousand years to reach anywhere with even the vague possibility of alien life – so by the time those aliens got to us, we’d all be dead anyway! So, it doesn’t really matter – or does it…?
Watch the video to find out more!