Cast not your Perl before swine?

Charles Curley charlescurley at
Sat Dec 15 15:40:23 MST 2007

On Sat, Dec 15, 2007 at 02:01:41PM -0700, Justin Findlay wrote:
> On AD 2007 December 14 Friday 08:57:52 PM -0700, Charles Curley wrote:
> > The navigation software that JPL used to guide the Voyager spacecraft
> > past Jupiter and Saturn was done in Fortran. They may still be using
> > that code, for all I know.
> Must be one way or another.  Voyager II is making news because it
> just hit the 'termination shock'--where solar wind slows down below
> the speed of sound.  Apparently this region fluctuates depending on
> solar activity and interstellar currents.  Exciting stuff.  Soon
> it'll be outside the heliopause which is where solar wind really
> fades out.

Cool! Two spacecraft outside the heliopause! Neat! Now for a manned

> Although you can make a gravitational claim that the solar system's
> Oort cloud extends out to a radius halfway to Alpha Centauri it's
> really amazing how far these craft have gone.

Indeed it is! The Voyager spacecraft were designed for a fifteen year
lifetime. And we're still getting useful science from them. The
radiothermal generator provided, if I recall correctly, 120 watts of
power at launch. Think about the implications for communications!

I worked briefly at JPL for the folks who were responsible for the
on-lab television system. If they didn't have anything else to show,
they ran the latest picture from one of the spacecraft, at that time
Voyager II. So I had the novel experience of coming out of my office
to get a cup of coffee, walking down the hall and looking at a monitor
at one end of the hall with a freshly minted hot off the spacecraft
view of a new Jupiter on it.

For you management types, that's my idea of a fringe benefit.


Charles Curley                  /"\    ASCII Ribbon Campaign
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