Science Saturday: Voyager in Interstellar Space + First Woman Taikonaut + Jules Verne-like Research Vessel + More

Welcome back to Science Saturday! This week, journey into interstellar space with Voyager 1, join Liu Yang, China’s first woman astronaut in space, explore Earth’s oceans in a Jules Verne-esque research vessel, and more! Plus, see our gadget of the week: the ArduSat open-source, crowdfunded satellite.


Voyager 1 Now Humanity’s First Object to Reach Interstellar Space
NASA’s Voyager 1 satellite (yes, V’ger) has sent back signals indicating that it’s now leaving the heliosphere and entering interstellar space. At 11,100,000,000 miles away, Voyager 1 has set the record for the farthest a human made object has ever travelled and marks mankind’s first steps outside of our own solar system. Voyager’s latest radio signals, which take about 16 hours to reach Earth, have shown an increase energetic particles around the spacecraft, which indicates to scientists that it is at the edge of the heliosheath, or the bubble that surrounds and protects our solar system from cosmic winds.

More at the Daily Mail.

V’ger: The first manmade object to reach interstellar space

China Launches Shenzhou 9 With First Woman Taikonaut Into Space
Chine’s Shenzhou 9 spacecraft carrying the country’s first woman astronaut successfully launched today at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu Province. Liu Yang and her two crewmates are part of China’s next big step in space exploration. This mission launched the first manned vessel to dock with the Tiangong-1 space lab, China’s orbiting space station, which is scheduled to be fully operational in 2020.

Jules Verne-like Ship to Explore Oceans
A new kind of research vessel that looks like something out of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea could be exploring Earth’s oceans as soon as late next year. Called the SeaOrbiter, the live-aboard vessel is part submarine, part research ship. For almost 12 years, the SeaOrbiter has been floating about as a concept ship, but it recently completed the industrial design phase, which should lead into production this October. About 50% of the vessel will be below the water line, allowing for constant underwater study. The SeaOrbiter is designed for intrepid scientists and is expected to cost around $43 million.

Read more at CNN.

Explore Earth’s oceans in a super cool research vessel

Pic of the Week: Scale of Phobos
Here’s an awesome rendering of Phobos, one of the two moons of Mars, shown to scale against the city of Grenoble in eastern France. It really gives you a feel for its size! Even though Phobos is a relatively small object, it looks huge compared to an entire city.

Click for more

Gadget of the Week: ArduSat the Crowdfunded Satellite
Have you ever wanted to send an experiment into space? Well, now you can! Aboard the ArduSat satellite powered by Arduino open-source microprocessors and funded by Kickstarter. ArduSat, which very well could be the cheapest satellite ever designed, is built on the CubeSat platform, a standardized cube satellite design that’s 4 inches by 4 inches and weighs less than 3 pounds. Head over to the ArduSat Kickstarter page to learn more and see what you can contribute.

Science Bytes
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.


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June 16, 2012 11:32 am

Of course V’Ger was Voyager 6, but we never did make it past Voyager 2 in real life…

June 16, 2012 12:04 pm

Is it just me, or is the “Sea orbiter” above vaguely Starfleetish in configuration?

June 16, 2012 12:57 pm

I’ve always thought they should retroactively edit Star Trek: TMP to change V’Ger to Voyager 1 or 2… OR NASA should just get on it and send 4 more probes out!!! LOL

June 16, 2012 12:58 pm

I’m surprised the possibility of mirror-universe neutrons didn’t make for a banner headline on a Star Trek site. It needs more review and reproduction, of course, but at least it’s not as immediately implausible as superluminal neutrons.

June 16, 2012 1:00 pm

@4: Superluminal neutrinos, I mean. Yeesh.

June 16, 2012 1:09 pm

Rename it Enterprise and insert it on STE opening credits. ::snic::

June 16, 2012 1:11 pm

Really sad for France how Phobos took out Grenoble.

June 16, 2012 1:19 pm

Thank you very much for showing my picture of Phobos ! :) I’m glad you like it.

June 16, 2012 1:57 pm

“Here’s an awesome rendering of Phobos, one of the two moons of Mars, shown to scale against the city of Grenoble in eastern France. It really gives you a feel for its size! Even though Phobos is a relatively small object, it looks huge compared to an entire city.”

Yes, it looks really REALLY huge when it’s about to flatten an entire city!

Steve UK
June 16, 2012 1:58 pm

That’s no moon…

Bob Tompkins
June 16, 2012 2:00 pm

If only the Sea Orbiter could be a deep sea submersible, it’d really rock.

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire
June 16, 2012 2:17 pm

Well. VGER will one day be back.
That’s no Moon!.

Christopher Roberts
June 16, 2012 2:18 pm

Interesting. That photograph seems to have be taken this December the 21st… and thrown back in time.

Christopher Roberts
June 16, 2012 2:19 pm

If you zoom in, there am I… in the middle of the street, holding a placard on a stick – like Wile E. Coyote.

Christopher Roberts
June 16, 2012 2:22 pm

I don’t know what’s more depressing…

That the world is going to end, or that I found myself on holiday in France.

Christopher Roberts
June 16, 2012 2:37 pm

I’m kidding! ;) :)

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire
June 16, 2012 3:24 pm

Hmm. At Warp one we can have Voyager 1 in our Shuttle bay in 16 hours.

June 16, 2012 3:32 pm

I heard that Phobos is hollow and on a collision with somebody called Darren V.

June 16, 2012 5:49 pm

Tropical lakes on Titan. Sounds like a nice vacation spot for Thanos until the next Avengers movie!

Sebastian S.
June 16, 2012 8:10 pm

All the best to the crew of Shenzhou 9.
Here’s hoping we (US, Russia, ESA, Japan and China) will be taking the big steps together! In the meantime, all the best…. ;-)

And Voyager is still inching along.
Still not quite past the bow shock, but it is certainly ‘interstellar’ by now (more or less). Maybe it will encounter a hot pink energy barrier at the bow shock’s outer rim and get super-powered….
“Is that Voyager 1? The one you used to know?”

Voyager 1: Where No Probe Has Gone Before!


June 16, 2012 8:21 pm

@ 18

Nope. Phobos is where demons come out and you have to slay them with your Big F (bleeping) Gun. Um, you have to play Doom. :-)

June 16, 2012 8:23 pm

You all do know that V’Ger is going to be captured by the Borg. See William Shatner’s novel, “The Return.”

Sebastian S.
June 16, 2012 9:34 pm

# 22 BB

Ah, but that was Voyager Six, not Voyager One. ;-P

We must be living in an alternate timeline…. :-o

June 17, 2012 12:49 am

#22 – Novel “written” by Shatner? The man who boasted he never watched a single episode of ST: TNG? Ha.

Written by Garfield & Judith Reeves-Stevens you mean.

In any case – not canon.

June 17, 2012 12:55 am

Liu Yang带去太空的是《百家讲坛》,不知道她太空里还有什么娱乐活动呢?
期待神州九号和天宫一号的交会对接 :-D

Voyager 1 attention, don’t be captured by Borg. :-P

June 17, 2012 6:16 am

No joke. They need to designate a couple of cabins aboard the Sea Orbiter for tourists. That would cover the operating costs.

V’ger! Isn’t the other one, Voyager 2, blown up by stinky Klingons?

Phobos looks like someone in bluejeans about to sit on France.

Good to see China’s Taikonaut is cute. Very important for the future of Starfleet to have hotties in space. Now, they need to get to work on developing velour uni’s and go-go boots.

Thanks, Kayla!

June 17, 2012 6:18 am

15 & 16 — Not to worry. Phobos will be repulsed by snide French waiters.

Sebastian S.
June 17, 2012 8:16 am

# 26

“V’ger! Isn’t the other one, Voyager 2, blown up by stinky Klingons?”

That was Pioneer 10, the first flyby probe of Jupiter (and the first object to achieve solar system escape velocity). I wonder what the Klingons were doing so close to Earth’s solar system in that movie; even by the 23rd century, Pioneer 10 (unless destroyed by an asteroid or something) would still be very close to Sol.
Maybe Starfleet needs to update it’s defense grid? ;-D

Of course, we’ll never know for sure how far Pioneer traveled (or will travel) as the last signals from Pioneer 10 were received sometime in 2003….

June 17, 2012 8:17 am


“I’ve always thought they should retroactively edit Star Trek: TMP to change V’Ger to Voyager 1 or 2… OR NASA should just get on it and send 4 more probes out!!! LOL”

You are wrong – they were already secretly lauched during the eugenic wars, which indeed took place in the 1990’s also secretly- the incidents will be uncovered somewhere in the future ;-)

June 17, 2012 9:03 am

28 – I stand corrected.

You do realize that the needle on the nerdometer is not just pinned; it’s bent.


June 17, 2012 11:24 am

# 29 nice

Sebastian S.
June 17, 2012 11:39 am

# 30 CdmrR

My wife and I broke our nerdometer needles MANY years ago…. ;-D

June 17, 2012 11:54 am

Sebastian… technically, that could have been Pioneer 11. They were identical.

June 17, 2012 12:51 pm

But why did the Pioneer probe scream when the Klingons blasted it?
Did NASA give it feelings?


Sebastian S.
June 17, 2012 3:37 pm

# 33. Thorny~

True, they were identical, but given that Pioneer 10’s course took it to escape velocity much earlier than 11 (which rendezvoused with Saturn after it’s Jupiter encounter), I tend to think that it would’ve reached interstellar space a lot sooner, and been further out when we see it in STV.

Still wonder what the Klingons were doing so close to earth in the first place…. ;-P

# 34 Vultan~

LOL! ;-D

That’s probably why V’ger and Nomad sported such serious attitude when they came back. Their ‘hurt feelings’ circuits were activated….

June 17, 2012 8:39 pm

As always, I really enjoy your articles. Keep up the great work!

Captain Dunsel
June 17, 2012 8:41 pm

Very interesting. That picture gives a good sense of how big Phobos is in relation to Grenoble. Now, if I only had some sense of how big Grenoble is…

June 18, 2012 8:24 am

@ 26. CmdrR…
Yeah, I see what you mean about the bluejeans thing. I would also hope to never see that a$$ in a bikini… holy mother

June 18, 2012 12:07 pm


“Still wonder what the Klingons were doing so close to earth in the first place…. ”

They needed to get within the free-delivery zone for some Dominos pizza.

June 18, 2012 12:55 pm

@26. There, there now. It’s been discussed plenty on this site how useful and functional the go-go dancer uniform is….

4 8 15 16 23 42
June 19, 2012 12:51 am

LIke #20, I am happy for the Chinese, and my only wish now is to see them join with the rest of the international community on space missions. Because we can really use their expertise and economic power.

June 21, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: # 41 – I agree.

Re: Pioneer 10 – I always hated the scream & flash effect that Bran Ferren gave it. It seemed so cheesy after the higher quality believable effects of the previous four movies.

June 21, 2012 3:21 pm

Since VGER could not even spell, it may as well have been Voyager 1.