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Is there life beyond our planet?

3 Mins read

At one point in life, we often wonder Is there life beyond our planet? And if we haven’t found life, will we find it soon? What efforts have been made in search of life?

What is Voyager I and Voyager II?

Voyager I was the first spacecraft to explore Uranus and Neptune. It has been out of contact since then, but scientists know that it is a strong likelihood that a small amount of radioactive decay power is still intact. When it eventually dies, its successor – Voyager II – will look for signs of life from 12.8 billion miles away. The mission will be the first exploration piloted by humans, too!

A brand new spacecraft was been built to take the place of Voyager I. Unlike the old spacecraft; Voyager II will be able to communicate with scientists on Earth. The probe was called Voyager II, its first mission was on August 20, 1977.

Voyager II was made up of three different parts; the command and service module (CSM), electronics module (EM), and science instrument module (SIM). This will make it the most advanced spacecraft ever made.

The Science Instrument Module, SIM, will allow an impressive seven instruments to study the planets and explore the furthest reaches of our solar system.

The Ion Plasma Spectrometer (IPS)

Used to explore Jupiter’s atmosphere, this will be a first for a spacecraft mission. It is hoped that the instrument will be able to detect water plumes erupting from Io’s surface. This may confirm that there is indeed a subsurface ocean under Europa’s icy crust.

The Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (UVS)

Voyager II found evidence for auroras on Jupiter as well as Saturn and Uranus. The Magnetometer (MAG) – Study Jupiter’s magnetic fields and its tiny moons. The Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons (SWEAP) – Will observe the solar wind, this could provide scientists with vital information about how the solar wind interacts with Jupiter’s magnetosphere.

The Plasma Wave Subsystem (PWS) – A first again for a spacecraft mission, Voyager II has been equipped with an instrument that will allow it to observe plasma waves in the outer heliosphere.

The suprathermal ion detector (STATIC)

This will be used to measure higher energy charged particles than instruments carried by Voyager I, covering up to 5 billion electron volts. It will use a klystron to ionize the gas and create very high-energy electrons, which will be accelerated and collide with atoms in the atmosphere.

The Magnesium Ion Spectrometer (MGS) – This will allow Voyager scientists to discover the magnesium content of Uranus’ atmosphere. It will also search for sodium and potassium ions, which could be used as a chemical tracer for organic compounds.

Voyager II carries an Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) which has been designed especially to measure very small quantities of gases such as Hydrogen or Oxygen that may exist in outer space.

The Ring Imaging Spectrometer (RIS) or “Home”

This will be able to photograph Saturn’s rings and study their structure and composition. It will also study the planet’s atmosphere and take images of its moons. The Magnetometer (MAG) – Will study Jupiter’s magnetic fields and its tiny moons. The Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons (SWEAP) – Will observe the solar wind, this could provide scientists with vital information about how the solar wind interacts with Jupiter’s magnetosphere.

What is the Golden record

The Voyager Golden Record contains sounds, images and data on Earth’s culture, science and technology. The record was designed to be playable on any suitable device anywhere in the solar system.

Have they found life? Is there life beyond our planet?

The short answer is no. The Voyager I and II missions did not detect any signs of life. There is no radio signal from Voyager I and II, and we do not know how long the spacecraft will survive in the harsh conditions of space. We may never know if there is life out there.

The long answer:

As far as we know, the only planets in our solar system that may have some form of life are Earth, Venus and Mars. This means that it is possible that another planet could exist within 200 million miles of our own – close enough for us to travel to but far enough away to be considered untouchable.

It is not uncommon for large objects in space, such as asteroids or planets, to have atmospheres. If there is a gaseous layer around a planet it would be the same conditions as the Earth’s atmosphere. It may contain oxygen and methane gas, but there may be much more complex chemicals present.

Conclusion


The Voyager II mission is decades away, but if there is another planet with life it could be 200 million miles away. At the speed of light, this would take over four hours to reach.

Only time will tell whether or not life exists beyond Earth. It may be trillions of years before we can even think about reaching another planet. It would be a long wait, especially if the aliens from the other side of the universe have a much more advanced technology than we do!

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