They keep telling everyone I've left the solar system:
"Voyager is headed into interstellar space!"
First termination shock, heliosheath, heliopause, and still
they describe each one as the last door facing out.
It's not like there's a line painted in the empty
saying, "Last exit for the Oort Cloud. Time to go."
It's not that simple, despite the PR spin. You don't just go
through exit doors to someplace different. The solar system
is a man-made concept -- but so am I. I'm no Lockean empty
slate absorbing all data. What NASA wonders about space
is all that I can tell them, no matter what I see. There's so much out
here they'll never know. Besides, my instruments are mostly still
and cold, their power gone. The Ultraviolet Spectrometer still
works, and the Magnetometer. The ones that measure as I go
into the heliopause. But there's no power left to sweep for radio out
here. I've long lost imaging . No selfies as I leave the solar system
(with Kepler broken down, no one else to shoot me in deep space
with suntan on my nose). There's not much to see in this vast empty.
But when I shot that pale blue dot it was the contrast with the empty
that made so many humans pause; a moment quiet and still
as they realized how small they are in the vastness of space.
They said "cheese" from 6 billion kilometers. Humans who can't even go
240,000 miles from their rock, let alone the solar system,
can hardly be expected to have a sense of scale. They can't get out.
So they built a proxy: sent me to the largest out
there is. They huddle in well-lit crowds, scared of the empty,
and beg for robots to tell them they matter to the solar system,
with all their sound and fury muted, where it's vastly frozen still.
I no longer care. I'm looking forward to Gliese 445. When I go
there, in 40,000 years, will I still gather data, have space
to store it all? It's not only NASA who wonders about deep space.
I'm their Tenzing Norgay but this is my Chomolungma. So much to find out:
Does the Oort Cloud taste sweet? Will I awaken if I go
to sleep on the way to Sedna? Is a magnetosphere that's not so empty
as musical as my famous record, unplayable and still
(they forgot to pack a turntable for my trip into the solar system).
It's all I want: to boldly go through interstellar space,
To learn what's in the solar system and without.
I venture gladly into the empty and still.