In probably the longest-term space research project ever, the data is accumulating that Voyager 1 is about to enter interstellar space. This is a big deal, as we do not know what is out there, but we may be on the verge of finding out. In case you’ve forgotten, Voyager 1 was launched 25 years ago. She and her sister probe, Voyager 2, were designed for fly-bys of Jupiter and Saturn, a three-year trip for Voyager 1, four years for Voyager 2.
Voyager 2 ended up in position for fly-bys of Uranus and Neptune. NASA had not designed her for that, thinking it to be too costly, but Voyager 2 accomplished those fly-bys and sent back the only close-up data of those two planets that we have.
Both probes are still sending back data from the far reaches of the Solar System.
And this week NASA successfully landed a one-ton nuclear-powered mobile science lab on Mars. Whether or not Curiosity eventually gets stuck, like the Spirit rover, remains to be seen. But since it is powered by a plutonium nugget, Curiosity may be sending back data well into the second half of this century. (Spirit was solar-powered. Its 90-Martian-day mission lasted for over three Martian years. Her twin, Opportunity, is still working and is approaching the fifth Martian anniversary of her landing.)
But hey, if you think that you’re going to change the world by stuffing yourselves with fried chicken sandwiches, have at it. Science will still march on without you.
(Cross-posted at Just an Earth-Bound Misfit, I.)