While we were celebrating the new year yesterday, Michael Minovitch celebrated his birthday.
I hope he had an out of this world birthday because he is the reason we know so much about the outer planets of the solar system. Dr. Minovitch proposed the solution to the “three body problem” that would propel the Voyager spacecrafts from one planet to the next using that planet’s gravitational power. Voyager 1 launched in September, 1977 and Voyager 2 launched in August, 1977. The Voyagers contain gold disks with “The Sounds of Earth” an idea from Carl Sagan. Click the link from “the Sounds of the Earth” to hear them.
Traveling at 50,000 miles an hour, over 10 miles a second. Voyager 1 is out in deep space is now over 11 billion miles from Earth and passed most of the power of Sun’s gravitational grasp (see the real-time distance measurement at this link.) Its twin, Voyager 2, has flown past all the outer giant planets, of Saturn, Uranus, and within 3,000 miles of Neptune in 1989.
The maths required for Voyager 2 to fly over Neptune required mathematical accuracy within one second and weather forecasting on a planet 3 billion miles away from Earth. Both Voyagers have flown farther than Pluto into interstellar space.
Now in a mission over 35 years, data from the Voyager transmiter, takes over 15 hours to arrive back to scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. And it all began with Dr. Michael Minovitch’s math of the “three body problem.”