The year 1977 was a big year for me. I was seven years old. Two things happened that year that captured my imagination. First, Star Wars hit the big screen. My dad took me to see it in June of that summer, shortly after it opened. The movie had not yet become a blockbuster. The summer was early. By the end of August, the future of cinema would be changed forever.
The other great event of ’77 was the the launching of the Voyager space probes. The Voyager probes (there were two of them) were designed to explore our solar system and whatever lay beyond. NASA figured out a way to use the alignment of the planets to basically fling these two satellites past the planets and out into the unknown, sort of like twirling a ball around your head on a string and then letting go. Using the most sophisticated technology at the time (including a fancy eight-track tape player), the probes have spent the last 35 years reporting data and sending back grainy pictures of planets Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, and some of the related moons. Not bad for our first attempt at planetary photography. Given the advances in technology over the past four decades, we’d probably do better with a few iPhones strapped to the probe , but we did the best we could with what we had. Continue reading