Have you heard or did you read the news yesterday? Incredibly, the Voyager space-probes, which departed Earth in 1977 and were sent to explore our own solar system, are entering interstellar space. Soon, the two probes will finally lose contact with Earth, but that’s not until us earthlings have their last word (in a certain number of characters of course).
This post will hopefully inspire teachers and children to get involved with this, as well as sharing possible lesson ideas and questions to ask in class. I really hope it’s helpful.
Here’s a short video describing some of Voyager’s incredible history and findings so far.
Currently, both Voyager probes are speeding towards interstellar space with one job left – to take a message from humanity as far into space as they can in the hope of encountering intelligent life.
Each probe carries an identical golden record, which contains music, sounds, greetings and pictures that were gathered in the 1970s. Their aim: to share a small piece of information with extra-terrestrial life.
What scientists are now saying, is because life on Earth has changed dramatically since 1977, we should really think about updating Voyager’s information, just incase we do come across alien life.
Questions for your class (1):
How has it changed?
What important discoveries have we made in this time? What inventions or things do we now have, that we didn’t then?
Because of the changes and advances humankind has made, scientists want to update the Voyager spacecrafts with a message, informing them on our new time and changed earth.
Questions for your class (2):
Do you agree?
Will a snapshot of our planet be able to be understood by other ‘intelligent life’?
Who should send the message?
Who should write it?
Some people however, believe that the probes should be uninterrupted as they’re time-capsules.
Do you agree? Seeing as they are the furthest man-made objects to reach interstellar space, should we not take advantage of this final opportunity to send a final message?
In the mid-2020s, Voyager 1 and 2 will run out of power entirely and therefore be unable to transmit any messages back to earth, or perform any other tasks NASA ask it.
They now aim to send a message of 1000 characters (which is the length of about 7 tweets of 140 characters).
Prof Riley says: “Before the Voyagers power down, why not add one final message from planet Earth, as a digital postscript to these most remarkable time capsules of humanity?”
Prof Riley says: “There’s really no reason why a message can’t be written by an impartial representative from the human race, so we’re inviting suggestions from anyone who would like to contribute a thought.” (c) Sky News 2015
Here’s the website where you can submit a Facebook message of your own 1000 characters, as well as read other people’s messages. Voyager’s Final Message
Facebook access for primary children will be a problem, so I thought it would be ideal if I set up a Padlet for this, so that teachers and children can share their own message that they’d like to send to Voyager. Here’s the link: http://padlet.com/mrcotter/6a19gor31232
Please, please share as widely as you’d like, and I will definitely be sharing with my great contacts on Twitter and Facebook. Who knows, maybe one of or some of, our messages will make it to interstellar space. Godspeed…
– Ask the children to write their own message to Voyager, for potential extra-terrestrial life.
– Ask them to compose a tweet of 140 characters instead of 1000. Your teacher can share it for you.
– Maybe combine 7 chosen messages to create 1 longer message from the class or even school.
-As a class, list the important things to have within the message, before creating the overall text.
– Possibly imagine what a response to this would be, using some of the carefully selected Facebook messages from earthlings.
– What will they see themselves doing in the mid-2020s.
– Write a journal/diary entry or blog post, from the perspective of the probe, on what you have seen and your final words before leaving the boundaries of our own solar system.
– Write a postcard from space (KS1/KS2), adding images and pictures from what you have seen so far.
– Create a fact file/information text on each planet you’ve passed as Voyager.
– Write a balanced argument on whether or not we should update Voyager’s message for potential aliens.
– Generate a comic-strip retelling using Comic Life of Voyager’s journey so far.
– Make Voyager out of Lego, photograph it and give the detail of each important part on the probe. How does this differ to our more recent probes sent in to Space.
– Create your own playlist for extra-terrestrial life. Using Spotify or iTunes, generate your own playlist for what you would send to Voyager that encompasses the wide variety of genres in today’s music. See the SoundCloud link below, where you can now actually listen to the sounds/music on Voyager.
Here’s a quick doc I created on Google Docs for you to download, share or adapt:
Space.com’s website on Voyager: http://m.space.com/22729-voyager-1-spacecraft-interstellar-space.html
Nasa’s Website on Voyager’s Mission: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov
Nasa’s Job Advertisement for old coding using Fortran: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/31/brush_up_on_your_fortran/
The Sounds of Earth that are on-board Voyager (Soundcloud link): https://soundcloud.com/nasa/sets/golden-record-sounds-of