Joplin museum opens Voyager exhibit

Allen Shirley stands near a copy of the Voyager 1 recording that was launched with the vessel in 1977. The gold record contains sounds from Earth such as water dripping, thunderstorms and music from Bach to Chuck Berry. The record is part of a display on the launch, which is still traveling space today. Globe | Laurie Sisk

An additional space exploration exhibit will open Thursday at the Joplin History and Mineral Museum.

Allen Shirley, president of the Joplin Historical Society and a collector of items related to historical events, will open to the public an exhibit in observance of the anniversaries of the liftoff off the Voyager spacecraft.

"Like our other exhibits, this will appeal to almost any age from adults who can remember the moonshots and the young people who now have their mind on returning to the moon and then going to Mars," Shirley said.

The twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft launched Aug. 20 and Sept. 5, 1977, and were not expected to remain operational this long.

Voyager 1 entered interstellar space in August 2012. That is the region between stars filled with material that was shot out into space by the death of nearby stars millions of years ago. According to NASA, scientists will learn more about interstellar space from Voyager 2, which entered that region in 2018.

Photos and scientific information are still being transmitted daily by both spacecraft through the Deep Space Network.

Their treks have far exceeded their original primary missions to explore Jupiter and Saturn. After making a string of discoveries that recorded active volcanoes on one of Jupiter's moons and details of Saturn's rings, the mission was extended. Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have traveled to the outer plants of Uranus and Neptune. Next, the two spacecraft will venture into the outermost edge of the Sun's domain.

As the explorers venture into deep space, they each carry a golden record that is loaded with various sights and sounds of Earth, including photographs, languages and noises made by different animals and insects.

Shirley's latest exhibit features copies — both large and small — of those golden records.

He said the small record was made so that it could be played in a disc player.

The exhibit will be available for a month and joins Apollo 11 artifacts that went on display at the museum in July.

"You can't stay static. You have got to have new things for people to see. That's been my goal for several years," Shirley said.

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