My Language Among The Stars!


  1. My language among the stars! <3
  2. The Chinese heavenly vessel 

Today I learned

If you've never heard of them before, the two Voyager probes launched in 1977 are the furthest man-made objects in existence. They've both left the Solar System and are over 10 billion miles away, and we still have contact with them! Due to a very rare and favorable orbital alignment, they performed a "Grand Tour" of the outer planets - in fact, Voyager 2 is the only probe to have visited Uranus and Neptune, so any picture you've ever seen of those two planets was taken by that one spacecraft

Uranus in 1986 and Neptune in 1989 by Voyager 2

The scientists that built the probes knew they'd eventually escape the Solar System, so they built the Voyager Golden Records, two golden phonographs attached to the Voyagers recording the sounds and images of Planet Earth for any aliens that may one day discover them. A "bottle in the cosmic ocean," as described by astronomer Carl Sagan

The cover of the Voyager Golden Record, depicting scientific constants like the hydrogen atom and location of the Sun

Among other sounds, the records contain greetings from Earth in 55 different languages. Obviously important ones like English are included, but I was listening to the recordings one day, and out of the blue I heard my unique Chinese dialect on the recording! (listen below at 0:04)

A little background on me - my family is Chinese by blood, but my grandparents left China for the Philippines, so my parents' generation is all born and raised in Manila. The ethnic Chinese community in the Philippines speaks a dialect called Philippine Hokkien (also known as Amoy, Southern Min, or Fukien). On the record, the speaker says, "Friends from space, how are you all? Have you eaten yet? Come visit us if you have time" in my language. I was so surprised and so proud my dialect made it to the heavens - I didn't think it was widely spoken enough. 

Mandarin Chinese is already on there, along with a bunch of other Asian languages. If a Voyager 3 ever got launched, may I humbly propose adding Tagalog (Filipino)? I asked my parents how they'd greet the aliens:

"Mabuhay! Kumusta ka? Saan kayo nanggaling? Masayang pagtanggap!"
"Greetings! How are you? Where are you from? We welcome you gladly!"

A Filipino flag on the moon? If only! Image credit here

Check our the full list of languages and greetings here. Did your language make the list? If not, what language would you add, and what would you say? Comment below!! 

This week in space history

On April 20, 2017, China launched its Tianzhou-1 (天舟 - "heavenly vessel") automated cargo spacecraft which docked with its Tiangong-2 (天宫 - "heavenly palace") space station. This new spacecraft is the Chinese equivalent of the SpaceX Dragon and other spacecraft used to resupply the ISS. 

Illustration of Tianzhou-1 docked with Tiangong-2 in orbit

The Tianzhou will be needed to support long-term Chinese manned presence in Earth orbit. For a number of (in my opinion, misguided) political reasons, China is barred from collaborating on the ISS due to US pressure, so the Chinese have drawn up plans for their own modular orbital space station. This will be particularly unsettling once the ISS is retired; suddenly, the US may depend on China for access to low Earth orbit. How quickly the tables can turn!

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