The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine yesterday announced the recipients of the 2018 Communication Awards. Emer Reynold’s acclaimed documentary The Farthest won the Film/Radio/TV award.

The Farthest tells the extraordinary story of NASA’s Voyager space-probes through the words of the people responsible for making them. It’s one of humankind’s greatest achievements.  More than 12 billion miles away a tiny spaceship is leaving our Solar System and entering the void of deep space – the first human-made object ever to do so.  Launched in August 1977, Voyager has defied all the odds, survived countless near misses and almost 40 years later continues to beam revolutionary information across unimaginable distances with less computing power than a modern hearing aid.  It’s estimated that Voyager’s nuclear generator will last another decade before the lights finally go out.  But this little craft will travel on for millions of years, carrying a Golden Record bearing recordings and images of life on Earth.  It could very well outlive humanity and our creations and be the only evidence that we ever existed.

An entirely Irish production, The Farthest includes interviews with 30 of the original scientists and engineers who built and flew the ground breaking mission, never-seen-before archive footage from inside NASA along with spectacular CGI, designed and created by Irish talent.  The film not only celebrates these magnificent machines, the people who built them and the vision that propelled them farther than anyone could have ever hoped but it also explores what it is to be human and the mysteries that define our existence.

The Farthest

The Rings of Saturn, just one of the planets visited by the Voyager space probes.

The Farthest was produced by John Murray and Clare Stronge for Crossing the Line Films in association with Fís Éireann / Screen Ireland, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, RTÉ, BBC, ZDF, Arte, PBS.  Developed with the support of the Creative Europe Programme – MEDIA of the European Union and produced with the support of Section 481.

The Farthest beat out John Hoffman, Jon Bardin, and Michael Epstein of the Discovery Channel for First in Human – Episode 101 ‘Admission’ and Wendy Zukerman, Kaitlyn Sawrey, Heather Rogers, and Shruti Ravindran of Gimlet Media for select episodes of the podcast Science Vs. to win the Film/Radio/TV award.

Congratulations to this year’s winners, who collectively communicated so engagingly and effectively about a remarkable diversity of scientific subjects. It’s our honor to recognize their outstanding contributions to science communication and to thank them for helping to expand public understanding of science in America.
May Berenbaum, NAS member and chair of the awards selection committee, and professor and head of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

A fascinating and visually arresting telling of the story of NASA’s decades-long Voyager mission, showcasing the accounts of project participants in their own words and conveying the challenges of engineering problem-solving and the importance of teamwork in the discovery process.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation since 2003 as part of the Keck Futures Initiative, these prestigious awards — each of which includes a $20,000 prize — recognise excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the general public.  The winners will be honored during a ceremony on Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.  The Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

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