Christopher Riley’s new book "Haynes NASA Voyager 1 & 2 Owners’ Workshop Manual" published by Haynes on the 24th August 2015, calls for a new digital update to one of planet Earth's most remarkable time capsules of humanity, carried onboard NASA’s twin Voyager spacecraft.
Christopher Riley says: “I’ve always been enchanted by the extraordinary Voyager Golden Record time capsules, and wanted to write this book to celebrate just how significant these missions are in the history of life in our Galaxy”.
Launched from Earth in the summer of 1977 the two Voyager spacecraft are now on their way out of the Solar System and are destined to orbit the Galaxy for a billion years or more. Both probes carry a copy of the Golden Record - which contains music, sounds and even pictures encoded on them. Their aim is to communicate something of human culture to any extra-terrestrial civilization, which might one day encounter them.
In his new book Christopher Riley calls for this unique interstellar time capsule to be updated, by transmitting a very brief message to be stored onboard each spacecraft as an accompaniment to the records they are carrying.
Christopher Riley says: “I explain in my book how we still have a chance to update these unique portraits of humanity. There’s enough computer memory on the Voyagers to store a final, short text-based message before their power runs out sometime in the 2020s”.
Such a message would need to be around 1000 characters long, (about the length of seven tweets), but Christopher Riley believes this would be enough to record something about how successful the Voyagers have been, and how our society has become more digital, since they were dispatched from Earth almost 40 years ago.
Christopher Riley says "We’ve sent very few spacecraft completely out of the Solar System, and this is a unique chance to dispatch one final message to the stars with the Voyagers, for eternity.”
Christopher Riley’s suggested update message reads:
More than forty years after leaving Earth this spacecraft named Voyager had broken into interstellar space, twenty billion kilometres from its home planet and was still powered and collecting useful data on its new environment.
During this time our society back on Earth has changed significantly - its population doubling to over 7 billion, and the environmental pressures of over-crowding and the challenges of living sustainably and peacefully together have grown more urgent.
Our technologies have become increasingly digital over these decades, raising our computing capability to push the frontiers of our knowledge faster, and accelerating our development as a single, interconnected global civilization; with all the advantages and problems that this brings.
With onboard power dwindling – the uploading of this message is one of the last contacts we will have with this spacecraft. We hope that one day, in finding our Voyager, you will know of our existence and our desire, like yours, to explore and better understand this Universe we have shared with you.
With peace and hope from the people of planet Earth.
For further information about Christopher Riley contact Rufus Stone at Swee: firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)7473 226221
Notes to Editors
1. The Voyager spacecraft were dispatched from Earth in 1977, flying past the outer planets over the next 12 years before leaving the Solar System to enter interstellar space.
2. Riley’s interest in Voyager began as a child. He was 10 years old when the two craft left Earth, and their flybys of all the giant planets in the Solar System accompanied him through his teenage years. He used Voyager imagery of the moons of Uranus for his undergraduate studies in applied geology at Leicester University in the 1980s.
3. Riley studied for his Ph.D., using Space Shuttle data to map a mountain range in the South of Spain, at Imperial College London in the 1990s, before joining the BBC’s science department where he garnered over 100 programme credits.
4. Riley produced and directed the BBC’s acclaimed documentary ‘Voyager – to the final frontier’ which was first broadcast on BBC FOUR in 2012, and has been repeated regularly since. It was nominated for a British Science Writer’s Award in 2013. He is currently visiting professor of science and media at the University of Lincoln.
5.Haynes publishing is the world's leading publisher and retailer of illustrated workshop car manuals, motorcycle manuals and motoring titles as well as books on a wide range of other subjects, including space vehicles; ranging from Apollo hardware and the Space Shuttle, to Mars Rovers, the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station. For more information visit www.haynes.co.uk.
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For further information about Christopher Riley contact Rufus Stone at Swee: email@example.com or +44 (0)7473226221