PIONEER PEEPS OUT A SIGNAL FROM DEEP SPACE
(Extracts from article in
The Guardian (Manchester, UK), Saturday March 4, 2000)
Image © NASA
"Nasa scientists have just heard the faintest peep from an almost forgotten
friend. Pioneer 10 — the first spacecraft to carry a picture of a nude man and
woman in case it ran into any extraterrestrial voyeurs — was launched 28 years
ago and is 6.9bn miles from the sun."
My head still stings where Mam belted me.
She gets so worked up with the
bairns around and she's expecting again.
Pray God it's the last.
Thought things would improve
when Father left the pit
to become the village bobby,
but things are still tight.
What a noise they're making in the kitchen.
Still five minutes and I'll be finished
the wash-house floor,
then I can start on the bedrooms.
"Its Plutonium powerpack can barely keep it alive. Its electrical signalling
equipment delivers about eight watts, the power of a night-light in a child's
Mam's a marvel with the treadle.
Making nightshirts for us for Christmas,
I'll help do the dinner.
She's usually in a wicked temper
with me on a morning,
and I keep out of her way —
but I'll just to have to put up with it.
My head still aches
and my hands are sore and chapped,
thank God I got through the washing yesterday.
"In 1992 it began to feel the eerie gravitational tug of a far away region of
space called the Kuiper Belt, home of the frozen fragments of matter left over
from the making of the solar system. It is now heading towards the edge of
the heliosphere, the giant 'bubble' blown by the wind from the sun."
Four days to go, we've ordered a chicken,
pushed the boat out, we won't have much else.
Stockings for the little ones.
Mam does well for us, we're a cut above the rest.
The only peace I get
is when I'm out here scrubbing,
'maid of all work' Mam calls me.
She's got her hands full.
"But Pioneer 10 is heading towards the heliopause, the last boundary of the
empire of the sun.... And it will go on beyond. It will still be speeding through
the Milky Way 5bn years from now, when the sun becomes a red giant and
burns up the planet that launched it."
Well, that's a job well done.
I'll still be doing the same 10 years from now.
Can't afford to go
dancing to meet anyone.
Life just passes me by, and goes on day in,
day out, year by year.
Someone's got to do it.