12 comments

  • vmh1928 13 days ago
    Here's a fairly detailed description from NASA of the space craft and subsystems and science experiments as well as a list of subcontractors.

    https://ntrs.nasa.gov/api/citations/19810001583/downloads/19...

  • whycome 14 days ago
    Amazon Prime (Canada) has "It's Quieter in the Twilight", a 2022 doc about the Voyager team, and they have an interview with Ed. It features some of the interesting stories of the people involved throughout the project -- and it also deals with the challenge of moving the project headquarters, a failing system, and the pandemic.

    https://www.itsquieterfilm.com/

    • WanderPanda 14 days ago
      I enjoyed the docu recently and I‘m still in awe how „software-defined“ the voyager system was/is for it’s time
      • dylan604 14 days ago
        Makes me wonder if Ed was aware that Voyager was fixed and once again operational before he passed. One of those situations where he held out long enough to see that, and then was able to let go knowing his project would long out live him.
        • sneak 14 days ago
          People don’t really get to “hold out” against death. It’s not like you can clench really hard to stay alive or something.
          • strogonoff 13 days ago
            There may be a degree of truth to “holding out against death”. It’s obvious if you step outside of the dogma of monistic materialism, but even that aside it looks like decrease in life expectancy after losing a spouse in old age, “diseases of despair” (with terminal ends), reduction in mortality associated with late retirement are allegedly things that exist. The will to do various things that correlate with not dying can do wonders.
            • adrian_b 13 days ago
              Yes, that is true.

              My father was going to die anyway, due to cancer, but he was expected to live one more half of year. Nevertheless, he was stable and without any visible difficulties, so much that his spouse was completely unaware that he had cancer (he preferred to delay telling her, to keep her happy, without worries, as there was nothing to be done anyway).

              Unfortunately, she died suddenly due to a hemorrhagic stroke, shortly before completing 65 years of marriage. Precisely after one week, he also died (due to some kind of kidney failure), after saying at her death that his wish had always been for them to die together, so his wish was fulfilled very soon.

              • schiffern 13 days ago
                Kidney failure suggests that unconsciously he may have avoided drinking enough.

                I suppose that doesn't make it any less of a "mind-body connection," really.

                Sorry for your loss.

          • robocat 13 days ago
            Actually some people can do so for a few days at least.

            I saw a western study looking at death rates and if I recall correctly: there was a dip in death rates just before 25th December, and then a bulge the same size as the dip after Xmas.

          • dylan604 13 days ago
            have you never heard the expression? as 1s and 0s left brained as I am, even I can let the lyrical notions be. i take solace in the fact that there's someone less poetic on life than myself. there is yet hope
          • rightbyte 13 days ago
            Surely you can 'hold out' against dying from pneumonia and similar sicknesses to some degree?
    • bobowzki 14 days ago
      I'm still looking for a place to watch that documentary from Sweden. It doesn't seem to be available on any platform.
      • fragmede 14 days ago
        Just checked, and it's available on the 2003 platform I most associate with Sweden, as a foreigner.
    • anotherhue 14 days ago
      It's well worth your time
  • ChrisArchitect 14 days ago
  • tocs3 14 days ago
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_C._Stone

    It would be nice to see an occasional mission like Voyager. Every few years just send something out to take some pictures of something we have not seen close up yet. Let it keep going and looking around (and back).

    • xcv123 14 days ago
      They have been sending out new probes every few years. You just haven't paid attention.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Solar_System_probes

    • dylan604 14 days ago
      looking around at what though? there's nothing else out there. when Sagan proposed to turn the cameras back to look at earth, ultimately resulting in the Pale Blue Dot and family portrait, there was push back that looking back at the Sun might ruin the sensor. the response was essentially, so what if it does. there's nothing else it will ever be close enough to that would require using the camera.

      New Horizons was the closest attempt at what you are suggesting in that they were able to aim for another body after the Pluto fly-by, but that was just luck in the alignments.

      The only thing I can think that might be useful would be having observatories with opposite trajectories for ever increasing parallax info, but I don't know what that would actually be useful for. The fact that nobody is doing it means people much smarter than me don't think it'd be useful either.

      • tocs3 14 days ago
        Another comet,asteroids, another mission to Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, and moons. More data on heliosphere. A modest space telescope measuring parallax. I am not proposing flagship missions just something so we can see something new a little more often.
        • dylan604 14 days ago
          "JWST isn't providing enough new for you?" he asks sarcastically.

          I think the budgets required would make any of the things you describe as flagship missions. Taking years after launch before the mission can start is a hard sell. The couple of months for JWST to become operational seemed like it was killing some anxious/excited people in that wait. Nevermind the decades long wait from delays in getting it launched too. It could literally something where the designers/builders never see the results. So I guess we should have started 10 years ago?

          • dredmorbius 14 days ago
            For both technical and scientific reasons (e.g., fundamental limitations of optical resolving power), there are things which cannot be seen via JWST or any other near-Earth telescope which a probe might be able to observe.

            There are also observations which extend beyond the electromagnetic spectrum itself, or sample physical conditions in the neighbourhood of outer-solar-system planets.

            (These are not knocks on JWST which is absolutely phenomenal for what it does. These are simply observations on the limits of JWST or any comparable near-Earth telescope or remote-sensing resources.)

          • tocs3 14 days ago
            Power way out there is hard and I do not know the best ways to deal with it but a standard sort of "explorer" class spacecraft the gets produced and sent out every few years. avoiding he development costs and some of the risk. Maybe one or two in Earth orbit to chase down interstellar interlopers. I suspect (but do not know, maybe someone else does) some of those that worked on JWST did not get a chance to see it launch (but an amazing project non the less).

            Also, JWST is mostly looking at things kind far away and sort of a long time ago (with some closer that is incredible. It cannot really compare to the images from Voyager(s) of the outer planets.

          • xcv123 14 days ago
            They have already been launching these missions for years on a regular basis. Interesting that no one here bothers to do a web search before commenting.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Solar_System_probes

      • jgalt212 14 days ago
        > New Horizons was the closest attempt at what you are suggesting in that they were able to aim for another body after the Pluto fly-by, but that was just luck in the alignments.

        An orbital mission to Pluto would be amazing. Maybe we can get its planetary status back. It is interesting and important to note that New Horizon's computers crashed for a bit as the probe was nearing Pluto. During the time the computers were down Horizon was scheduled to be scanning for as yet undiscovered moons of Pluto. If it had found a bunch more, perhaps Pluto would have already regained its rightful planetary status.

        • dylan604 14 days ago
          Compare how long New Horizons took to get to Pluto in a fly-by against how long it would take to get there at a slow enough speed to actually park in orbit. I don't know what those numbers are for the comparison, but my gut says it'd be a really long time. Maybe they could use some gravity assists to speed up the journey out to Saturn/Neptune, and then use aerobraking to slow down again for the rest of the journey??? I find the trajectories that they use for these kinds of missions very interesting. Even the Parker solar probe has a seemingly very complicated trajectory.
          • dredmorbius 14 days ago
            Outer solar system distances are large. Pluto occasionally orbits within Neptune's orbit, but can be up to about 1.5 times more distant (49 AU vs. 30 AU at aphelion). Which means you'd be braking with 40% of the voyage to complete, worst case.

            Your larger problem is that there aren't very many outer-solar-system planets, and their orbits don't align in ways useful to gravitational slingshots (for acceleration or deceleration) or aerobraking very often, as in on the order of many decades or centuries. The Voyager "Grand Tour" missions (launched in 1977, primary encounters from 1979 through 1989, both missions ongoing presently in the Heliopause) relied on one such rare alignment. Those occur at roughly 175 year intervals:

            "When is the next Outer Planet lineup (Voyager)"

            <https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/5075/when-is-the-n...>

            Getting to Pluto is hard. Stopping at or orbiting it is harder. That said, there are at least three proposals for such a mission. One is a fusion-enabled pluto orbiter and lander (the propulsion system envisioned is still theoretical). Another a "hop, skip, and jump" mission utilising Pluto's own highly tenuous atmosphere for aerobraking. A third is called "Persephone" of which I have no further details on propulsion, though Wikipedia links several very vague descriptive articles.

            <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploration_of_Pluto#Future_mi...>

          • tivert 14 days ago
            > Maybe they could use some gravity assists to speed up the journey out to Saturn/Neptune, and then use aerobraking to slow down again for the rest of the journey???

            Or an gravity assist at Neptune to slow down? Given their orbits cross it maybe it would be practical and relatively fast someday, but maybe not for a long time.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_assist

            https://www.theplanetstoday.com/the_planets.html

  • dredmorbius 13 days ago
    The WSJ article is paywalled and the archive.today link submitted fails to capture the full text: <https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=40930022>

    (HN also seems to have disabled replies to that comment, or I'd be noting this there.)

    A paywall-free obit is available from the CBC: <https://www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/ed-stone-head-of-the-voyager...>

    There's also a NASA/JPL obit <https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/ed-stone-former-director-of-jp...> commented by ChrisArchitect here: <https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=40930393>

    Which was discussed a month ago, making this submission a dupe as well.

    I've emailed mods on the first two issues.

  • wanderingmind 13 days ago
    They recently debugged voyager remotely 25 billion kms away from earth. Its fascinating how much thought went into software design to enable such remote debugging even possible

    https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=40687660

  • rodgerd 13 days ago
    I always recommend https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6223974/ The Farthest; a wonderful film.
  • joecool1029 14 days ago
  • dang 13 days ago
  • sgt 14 days ago
    Such a legend. Warrants a black bar, IMHO.
  • ISL 14 days ago
    Here's a vote for a black bar.