On September 5th 1977 Voyager 1 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Originally designed to explore the outer planets of Jupiter and Saturn, the spacecraft is still functioning and transmitting back data to Earth.
Debate is still ongoing as to whether the probe has finally left the influence of the solar system and entered inter-stellar space. However regardless of this, Voyager is just passed a milestone. It is now more than 19.1 Billion kilometres from earth (at the time of writing),
One of the most compelling images collected from Voyager gives some idea of scale. As it reached the edge of the solar system, mission control pointed the on board imaging back at earth for one last photograph.
In what could be described as the ultimate selfie, a small blue grey dot was seen by Voyager. Such an obvious example of the magnitude of space and the relative insignificance of this little planet has helped me reconsider our own importance. – Not least of which has been a means of putting those arrogant self-important and overbearing individuals we all have to encounter into their rightful place.
To give a further idea of scale, in the time it has taken you to read this post Voyager has moved another 4,000 km from Earth. Even at the speed of light an instruction to the probe now takes more than 30 hours to be received and acknowledged.