Story: In the pantheon of great human achievements, the twin Voyager spacecraft have to be considered one of mankind’s most impressive feats. In 1977, two spacecraft were launched to do what had once been assumed impossible, to travel to the outer planets and do extensive documentation. This would result in images that revealed a constant flow of new insights and information, while the craft itself would serve as a capsule of sorts, if discovered by an alien race. Those who found Voyager would be able to access photos of our world and various audio clips, including music, to have a small idea of who we were and where our planet was. In The Farthest, we are taken inside the Voyager mission from conception to completion.

Entertainment Value: I have a strong interest in space and the cosmos, so I knew I’d appreciate this PBS documentary on the Voyager mission, but The Farthest exceeded all of my expectations and then some, as this is a masterful look inside the historic events. The piece follows the project from when it was more of a dream, the idea of visiting and documenting the outer planets, even giving us a peek inside how the funding was secured. With a once every 176 years window in which the outer planets would align in just the right pattern, then President Nixon approved the mission, though he would only agree to have two of the planets surveyed. Of course, we know that the Voyager would reach all of the outer planets and beyond, so the documentary then spins to show us the design and construction elements, to see how the craft was able to surpass such incredible goals.

I couldn’t wait for the segments about the outer planet visits and I wasn’t disappointed, as this piece gives us an in depth tour of each planet and the process involved to gather the data. This includes some amazing visuals, with a host of photos taken by Voyager and interviews with experts who break down that data and what it means. This makes for such an interesting experience, as The Farthest takes the time to explain what we see and how the information was useful, all while we are dazzled by the incredible images captured by Voyager. There are some stressful moments and we’re shown what those issues were and how the team handled the problems, which is beyond remarkable, especially when you consider this cutting edge mission was able to finish the outer planets tour. I was mind blown by The Farthest and would easily give it our highest recommendation.

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