April 28, 2011:One day, years from now—or maybe billions of years, no one knows—aliens might be surprised to run across an old spaceship from Earth. Improbably far from home, the ancient probe is space cold, its nuclear power source spent long ago; an iconic white antenna points silently into the void, beaming no data to the species that made it. Yet this Voyager may speak to its finders.
Late last year, astronomers noticed an asteroid named Scheila had unexpectedly brightened, and it was sporting short-lived plumes. Data from NASA’s Swift satellite and Hubble Space Telescope showed these changes likely occurred after Scheila was struck by a much smaller asteroid.
More than 30 years after they left Earth, NASA’s twin Voyager probes are now at the edge of the solar system. Not only that, they’re still working. And with each passing day they are beaming back a message that, to scientists, is both unsettling and thrilling.
29 April 2011 NASA Shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach stated that Endeavour’s launch will be no earlier than Monday 2 May at 2:33 pm EDT (20:33 CEST). Engineers need that time to troubleshoot an issue that resulted in today’s launch scrub.