Voyager 1 passed the 100 A.U. mark this week. That’s 100 times farther from the sun than the earth is, more than 9.3 billion miles away. It’s the most distant man-made object in the Solar System, launched in 1977.
So, to commemorate, JPL gave out pins to all its employees. They’re very nice pins. I have a drawer at work where I put them, along with all the missions patches and stickers that we get. I imagine that once I leave JPL or retire, I’ll put them in a book, or Lord willing, give them to my grandchildren or something.
I occasionally run across some colleagues who actually worked on the Pioneer and Voyager missions. It’s so cool to think about the spacecraft functioning for three decades. Several engineers in my group routinely talk about working on the design for the Galileo spacecraft which was built in the early 80’s, and was delayed by the Challenger accident. I’ve been at JPL for 8 years now, and it’s hard to imagine being there for 20. Great place to work.