From the invention of the wheel to splitting an atom; from modern medicine to stepping foot on the Moon, humankind has indeed accomplished some incredible feats. One achievement that sits near the top of the list is the historic Voyager missions. In 1977, two robotic probes, Voyager 1 and 2, were launched several weeks apart from Cape Canaveral to study the outer Solar System. Using the alignments of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune for gravity assists, the little spacecraft, no bigger than a school bus, hurtled into the unknown to get up close and personal with these giant planets.
The scientific data and photographs collected by the mission revealed unknown details about these foreign worlds and their moons. The spacecraft witnessed Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere and storm systems, the erupting volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon, Io, which has 100 times the volcanic activity of Earth, the waves and fine structure in Saturn’s icy rings and the 1,600 km per hour winds on Neptune – and that’s only naming a few!
The mission has extended three times, and the twin spacecraft are now tasked with exploring interstellar space. More than 12 billion miles away and each carrying a Golden Record from Earth, filled with sounds and images of our little blue planet, this incredible mission resulted in the first human-made object ever to enter the void of deep space. On 25 August 2012, data from Voyager 1 indicated that it had finally made it into a region further than anyone, or anything, in history. With internal computers and cameras which have less power than not only our smartphones but our car key fobs, the Voyager missions are indeed one of the greatest achievements of all time.
Slowly dying within their hearts is a nuclear generator that will beat for perhaps another decade before the lights finally go out. However, these little crafts will continue to travel on for millions of years and in all likelihood, will outlive humanity.
The Farthest, a fascinating and witty documentary by Emer Reynolds, follows the journey of Voyager 1 and 2 through the eyes those who have been closest to the action the past four decades. A standout film from the 2017 New Zealand International Film Festival, it celebrates the magnificent machines, the men and women who built them, and the vision that propelled them farther than anyone could ever have hoped.
Stardome is very lucky to have access to this critically-acclaimed film to screen for a limited season. Head to Stardome in November, grab yourself a drink and some snacks, and relax the planetarium to watch this exhilarating documentary – you will no doubt come away enthralled and inspired by the human race.
Book tickets here.