The final week of my annual February birthday month fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black has begun. I continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, including numerous donations and a surge of new subscribers willing to commit to donating anywhere from $2 to $25 per month. Wow! The numbers are too many to send out individual thank you’s, so please forgive me for thanking you all with this one announcement.


The campaign however must go on, especially because I have added more regular features to my daily workload. In addition to my daily never-ending reporting on space exploration and science, my regular launch reports, my monthly sunspot updates, the regular cool images, and the evening pauses I post each evening, I have now added a daily weekday post I have entitled "Today's blacklisted American." Its goal is not to discuss policy or politics, but to note the endless examples occurring across the United States where some jack-booted thug or thugs think it is proper and acceptable to censor, blackball, cancel, and destroy an innocent American, merely because that American has expressed or holds an opinion or is of a race or religion that is no longer considered acceptable to the dominant leftist and bigoted culture. I want to make clear to every American that a large number of your fellow citizens no longer believe in the enlightened concept of freedom of speech or the idea of treating each person by the quality of their character.


Instead, they wish to shut you up, and oppress you if you happen to disagree with them or have the wrong skin color. This evil must be exposed.


To continue to do this into the foreseeable future however I need your support. If you are one of those millions who read Behind the Black each month, please consider donating or subscribing. Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
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Voyager 2 enters interstellar space

The Voyager 2 spacecraft, launched in 1977, has entered interstellar space, becoming the second human spacecraft to achieve this.

Comparing data from different instruments aboard the trailblazing spacecraft, mission scientists determined the probe crossed the outer edge of the heliosphere on Nov. 5. This boundary, called the heliopause, is where the tenuous, hot solar wind meets the cold, dense interstellar medium. Its twin, Voyager 1, crossed this boundary in 2012, but Voyager 2 carries a working instrument that will provide first-of-its-kind observations of the nature of this gateway into interstellar space.

Voyager 2 now is slightly more than 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from Earth. Mission operators still can communicate with Voyager 2 as it enters this new phase of its journey, but information – moving at the speed of light – takes about 16.5 hours to travel from the spacecraft to Earth. By comparison, light traveling from the Sun takes about eight minutes to reach Earth.

When I first wrote about these spacecraft in the 1990s, it was thought that Voyager 2 would probably not exit the solar system until the 2020s, meaning that its nuclear power source might die before that happened. That it has happened now, so much earlier, helps map the size of the heliosphere as well as the pressure that might be placed upon it by the interstellar medium

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.


  • Col Beausabre

    By my back of the envelope calculation, Voyager 2 will take another 19 years to reach 1 light-day from Earth. It would be so cool for it to be still transmitting – but I guess Bob’s going to tell me that a sixty year life for the power source is nothing but a dream. Sigh. I wonder if >I’ll < still be operating – I'd be 87 (and jeeze, it was launched when I was a 25 year old 1LT at Ft Lewis…talk about in a previous lifetime !)

    "Space is big….No, BIG…. REALLY, REALLY BIG"

  • wayne

    “MHW-RTG: Multihundred-Watt radioisotope thermoelectric generators.”

    Each RTG had a total weight of 37.7 kg including about 4.5 kg of Pu-238. It uses 24 pressed plutonium-238 oxide spheres and provides enough heat to generate approximately 157 watts of electrical power initially – halving every 87.7 years. Each Voyager spacecraft has 3 RTGs. Collectively, the RTGs supplied each Voyager spacecraft with 470 watts at launch.”

  • Chris

    – is the “REALLY REALLY BIG” in a Trump voice over?

    – the data at your finger tips never ceases to amaze

    The article has a graphic showing the exit points of Voyager 1&2 in general terms being toward the “thinner” part of our heliosphere. In the text they describe a “constant interstellar wind flowing from beyond”. There is a Hubble picture of a young star and it’s “bow wave” in its own interstellar wind.
    This “wind” is intriguing.
    I wonder on the source from “beyond”, the flow and flux of this wind. How would projects such as the (1000?) cube sat mission to the Alpha experience them?

    Space is (Trump voice over) REALLY REALLY BIG!

  • wayne

    I’m just a primate with a keyboard, but thanks! (It could all be double-plus ungood information.)

    So– who knows enough math to figure out how much power is being (theoretically) generated, if we assume 157 watts per RTG, with an 87.7 year 1/2 life?
    Q: What’s the minimum electric required, to keep the radio going?

    Referencing Space:
    Not only is it YUGE….

    “It is very cold, in space…..”
    Khan Noonien Singh

  • m d mill

    FYI… are you aware of the 2017 documentary “The Farthest: Voyager in space”
    available on netflix and youtube.

    An inspiring account of the interplanetary exploration at its amazing best.
    It reminded me of the incredible scientific and technical accomplishment (1971-77) of a nation that was then the greatest in the history of the world.

  • wayne

    Swan Tour dot com:
    Yeah, right, sure you did.

    “More adventures in replying to spam”
    James Veitch

  • Col Beausabre

    “Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.” Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

  • All: Please do not post comment replies to any spam that gets through. Such replies will generate more spam. As soon as I see the spam I mark it as such and it vanishes forever. Just be patient

  • Alex Andrite

    IT is “Really Really Big”.
    This, as so many posts by our Host, is Amazing. Thank you Mr. Z.

    I rather prefer to acknowledge the ‘Bigness’ as a Mystery for us to struggle with, to enjoy, to savor, to marvel at, yes, to explore, which actually is only one of so many other mysteries right here in our very midst.
    “Good Night Moon”.

    “Look to the Heavens …..”

  • wayne

    Pink Floyd

    “All that you touch , all that you see,
    All that you taste, all you feel.
    All that you love, all that you hate,
    All you distrust, all you save.
    All that you give, all that you deal,
    All that you buy, beg, borrow, or steal.
    All you create, all you destroy,
    All that you do, all that you say.
    All that you eat, and everyone you meet,
    All that you slight, and everyone you fight.
    All that is now, all that is gone,
    All that’s to come.
    And everything under the sun is in tune,
    But the sun is eclipsed, by the Moon.”

  • pzatchok

    We have not even flown there yet and we are already leaving garbage out there.

    By gosh we need a new space program to go out and collect those things.

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