One of the United States’ most famous comedians paid homage to NASA’s Voyager mission on his wildly popular television show.
Stephen Colbert, who hosts the Colbert Report, donned a 1950s-style spacesuit to present Voyager’s chief scientist, Ed Stone with a NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. Stone has been in that position since 1972.
The award was unexpected.
"I was on the Colbert Report to talk about what I think of as humankind's greatest - and certainly most extensive - journey of exploration, and I certainly didn't expect the host to hand me an award," said Stone, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology and former director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "That surprise on my face was real."
The NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal is the highest honor for a non-government individual. Stone was commended for "a lifetime of extraordinary scientific achievement and outstanding leadership of space science missions, and for his exemplary sharing of the exciting results with the public."
In September, NASA confirmed that the Voyager 1 probe, which was launched in 1977, had left the Solar System and was some 19 billion kilometers from Earth. During its journey, the spacecraft has provided stunning images of Jupiter and Saturn. Voyager 2, launched the same year, traveled to Neptune and Uranus.
Here's Stone's interview with Colbert about the ongoing Voyager 1 mission: