Two hundred and seventy million miles of vast dark emptiness from here and high above the ecliptic plane slowly spins the high science of two decades past. At fifty million miles an hour Ulysses has been marking the monotony with only a gradual shift in the positions of the stars, including our own, at which it has stared relentlessly for these many years. The heat of her radioisotope generator has been largely depleted and can no longer power all her instruments; her hydrazine fuel has dwindled down to a pittance of only seven months’ supply. The end is near and approaching fast; come November, one year into its third trip around the sun, Ulysses’ low whisper of data will finally fall silent as she succumbs to the cold sleep in deep space.
Yet, just as the forever lost vessels of our early seafaring past are only now being recovered from the floors of the seas, perhaps it will be the children of your children who will one day return her home to Earth, but home she will be brought as a prized artifact of exploration from our time.
I figure it’s either that, or the Klingons will use it for target practice, but twenty quatloos says we get to it first.