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NASA beamed a tweet into space in honor of Voyager 1’s 40th anniversary

Boldly going where no tweet has gone before.

The Voyager 1 spacecraft is shown against a black background before it’s launch on Sept. 5, 1977.
Voyager 1 continues to send data to NASA daily. The spacecraft reached interstellar space in August 2012, it continues to explore space beyond Earth’s solar system today.

We’re used to our tweets being sent to the cloud, but one lucky tweeter is having his tweet beamed through space to be archived on NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft.

Let’s back up. On this day 40 years ago, Voyager 1 launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. — 16 days after its twin, Voyager 2.

Originally launched to explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, the Voyager spacecrafts completed their mission in 1989 and continued on to explore the solar system. Forty years later, they are still sending pictures back to Earth, from more than 10 billion miles away.

The twin Voyager spacecraft took some of the very first up-close images of planets in our solar system, like Jupiter and...

Posted by NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Sunday, September 3, 2017

To honor the 40th anniversary of Voyager 1’s launch, NASA has been collecting tweets and other social media posts sent in with the hashtag #MessageToVoyager.

Captain James Kirk of the Starship Enterprise — er, actor William Shatner — read the winning tweet from Oliver Jenkins during NASA’s live event honoring Voyager’s anniversary. Jenkins, tweeting from the handle @Asperger_Nerd, wrote, “We offer friendship across the stars. You are not alone.”

The transmitted tweet will be in space along with Voyager 1’s “Golden Record,” a 12-inch, gold-plated copper phonograph record, which contains images and sounds of life on Earth, as a welcome message from humans on Earth.

According to NASA engineer Jeff Berner, the tweet will be sent into space from a 70-meter antenna outside of Madrid. Just 56 text characters long, the tweet was translated into 448 bits so that NASA could send it through as a Voyager command message format.

It took 28 seconds to transmit the tweet, and the message will reach Voyager 1 in a little more than 19 hours. So while the tweet won’t be imprinted on the record itself, it will join Voyager billions of miles out in space in the hopes that alien life might find it and respond.

It’s unclear how long the message will continue to travel into space once it catches up to Voyager 1.

An image of NASA’s Golden Record sent with Voyager 1 and 2 to describe life on earth to aliens NASA/JPL

NASA doesn’t provide a full archive of what was sent to space on the Golden Record, but there’s a color spectrum, a diagram of a fetus and pictures of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It also provides audio recordings on the record, including several “Greetings to the Universe” in languages from all over the world.

So, happy 40th anniversary, Voyager 1! Here’s hoping that the aliens like our tweets.

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