An alien hunting radio telescope has picked up humanity’s most distant creation

·1 min read
The Voyager 1 spacecraft seen before launch in 1977 (Nasa)
The Voyager 1 spacecraft seen before launch in 1977 (Nasa)

An alien hunting telescope has picked up a faint and interesting signal — but it’s not from aliens.

Instead, the recently refurbished Allen Telescope Array in California on 9 July picked up the signal of Voyager 1, the most distant object created by humans.

Launched on 5 September 1977, Nasa’s Voyager 1 mission provided stunning images of the outer Solar System before passing beyond the orbit of Neptune. Voyager has continued flying away from us at more than 38,000 miles per hour, and has crossed into interstellar space: the spacecraft is currently about 14.5 billion miles from Earth.

That’s more than 150 times the distance of the Earth to the Sun. Nevertheless, the distant probe still makes regular contact with the Deep Space Network, a series of antennas around the globe Nasa uses for keeping in touch with spacecraft in deep space.

The 42 antenna dishes of the Allen Telescope Array were also able to detect Voyager 1’s signal and record about a quarter hour of data from the space probe, which continues to beam back information about the properties of the “interstellar medium,” the space outside the immediate electromagnetic influence of the Sun.

“The detection of Voyager 1, the farthest human-made object, with the refurbished Allen Telescope Array is an excellent display of the telescope’s capabilities and strengths, and a representation of the outstanding hard work put by the ATA team since the start of the refurbishment program in 201,” Wael Farah, a postdoctoral research at the Seti institute wrote in a statement.