Wednesday, August 27, 2014

30 Trillion Miles and Counting...

An artist's concept of the Gliese 581 star system.

Five Light-Years... That’s how far the Hello From Earth message has traveled since being transmitted from a giant NASA antenna in Australia to the exoplanet Gliese 581d (which apparently doesn't exist and may just be a false signal according to recent studies by astronomers... Whatever) exactly half a decade ago today. As of 7 PM California time tonight (12 PM Sydney time on Thursday, August 28), the radio signal containing 25,878 goodwill text messages—including one by me—will have ventured across 30 trillion miles (48 trillion kilometers) of deep space...which, as stated at the very start of this Blog entry, equals a distance of five light-years. The signal, despite traveling 186,000 miles per second (or 671 million miles per hour, or um, 1 billion kilometers per hour), will still take 15 years to reach the Gliese 581 star system. Will we have landed folks on Mars by then? Nope— That's planned for the 2030s. You can thank NASA's budget issues for that.

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