Touring the outer reaches of our galaxy the Voyager 2 spacecraft has begun sending back messages to Earth that even scientists cannot interpret. Some experts online and on newsgroups believe it may be the work of aliens.
Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, were launched in 1977 to explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Three decades on, they are the most distant human-made objects in outer space. Voyager 2 holds various information about the human species, including sound recordings of children singing, waves crashing on the ocean, babies crying and the signatures of the President of the United States and UN Secretary General.
Voyager 1 is currently more than 8.5 billion miles from Earth. It will soon travel beyond the heliosphere – a bubble the sun creates around the solar system – into interstellar space, scientists say.
Both probes were installed with a Golden Record. Simultaneously a greeting card, map and time capsule, these devices contained images and sounds from Planet Earth and voice greetings in more than 50 languages. The records’ content describing our home was selected and assembled by the late USENET subscriber Carl Sagan, just in case someone out there might be listening as the Voyagers passed through.
Space related newsgroups report that while it tries to work out what’s going on, NASA has instructed the spacecraft to only send data on its own status, but says the problem can probably be fixed with a simple software patch. All NASA has said of the glitch is that Voyager 2 suddenly began transmitting data in a completely different format.
Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are investigating the cause of the change. The probe is 8.6 billion miles from earth and will eventually leave the solar system. NASA equipped the probe with music and multilingual greetings for any intelligent life it encounters.
Many on newsgroups believe it’s just a matter of the fact that after 33 years in the cold dark vacuum of space, the antiquated hardware may simply be malfunctioning. NASA scientists have, not surprisingly, not weighed in on the matter of aliens having hacked our space probe, choosing to keep collective nose to the grindstone in determining cause and solution.