Next time you're marveling at the fact that Spirit and Opportunity have been roving Mars for over six years now, ponder this: the two Voyager spacecraft have been hurtling through our solar system for nearly 33 years. Today, Voyager 1 hits a mission milestone of operating continuously for 12,000 days. The spacecraft launched on September 5, 1977, while Jimmy Carter was president, and has now traveled 14 billion miles.
In a few months, NASA scientists and the press will note the passing of the 30th anniversary since the launches of Voyagers I and II. By now, both interstellar probes have passed beyond Pluto's orbit and are speeding out toward neighboring star systems, carrying with them copies of the Golden Record, a phonograph record full of images, music and recordings of life on Earth intended for any extraterrestrials who might happen upon the probe and wonder who sent it. It's the same idea behind the plaque that was bolted onto the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft, both of which are currently gliding out of the solar system behind the Voyager probes.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.