Happy Birthday, Carl Sagan!
One of the great astrophysical minds and proponents for reaching beyond our limits as a species, was Dr. Carl Sagan, born today, November 9, 1934. Dr. Sagan died from an illness in 1996, but his voice and contributions to exploring the cosmos live on.
Carl Sagan was a big supporter of SETI — the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence — and he convinced NASA to put the Golden Records on the Voyager Probes, now just beyond the solar system, in the slim, slim chance an intelligent alien civilization might eventually find them. He believed in reaching past our limitations as a species, while protecting our small planet and its inhabitants. Dr. Sagan’s original 1980 television series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, put astrophysics and exploration of the Universe on the map of public interest — an achievement that survives today. He hoped to one day see a human colony on Mars, and perhaps, if still alive, he might have helped push our space program to achieve that goal.
Perhaps one of Dr. Sagan’s most profound speeches, The Pale Blue Dot, centered on the image of Earth taken, on his suggestion to NASA, with one of the Voyager probes at a distance near the outer planets. This image showed Earth, for the first time, as a tiny dot in a vast sea of space, and generated a more humble perspective of our place in the cosmos. His voice, along with the Voyager images he inspired, can still be enjoyed, below:
You can read more about the Voyager mission and its journey out to interstellar space here.