recommended reading

Scientist Recalls Winning 1971 Voyager 1-Related Contract by Telegram

The Voyager team in 1972.

The Voyager team in 1972. // NASA file photo

Last Thursday, NASA made a historic announcement: Voyager 1, "the little spacecraft that could," became the first ambassador of human civilization to exit the bubble around our sun and enter interstellar space.

Even though the spacecraft is 11.6 billion miles away, and could have no possible impact on my day-to-day life whatsoever, I love thinking about it, way out there, and I love thinking about what its location says about humans that we've managed to send it there. 

But there is one small detail, minuscule when compared with the majesty of this accomplishment, that I love as well, and it's something that Norman Ness, one of the members of the Voyager science team, told me when I spoke to him on the phone last fall.

Ness recalled the time, in the early '70s, when the mission was just getting started and NASA put out a solicitation for proposals for what instruments would go onboard. Ness responded with his plan for a triaxial fluxgate magnetometer that would measure the magnetic field around the spacecraft.

And then the best part: Ness found out in December of 1971 that his proposal had been accepted, and he found this out by telegramIt was, he told me, the "best Christmas present I ever got."

In the time since, we've erected skyscrapers that seem to actually scrape the sky, cleared patches of forest the size of countries, and connected far-flung corners of the globe by undersea fiber-optic cables. We've built a new world, one in which telegrams, already on their way to obsolescence when Ness received his, are signposts of another era.

And we did all of this so quickly: Four decades is no time at all, in the scheme of things.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.