Voyager Spacecraft On The Edge Of Solar System


The Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched on September 5, 1977, is on the cusp of leaving our solar system.  It is difficult for scientists to determine just when that will happen.  Ed Stone, Chief Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, “It could actually be anytime or it could be several more years.”  But, “we believe this is the last leg of our journey to interstellar space”  Voyager is 18.5 billion kilometers from earth.  At this point scientists simply don’t know what the event will look like as it leaves our solar system.  But Stone did describe the strange zone of space that Voyager had entered, in a trio of papers published on line in the journal Science.  According to Stone, “soon after Voyager 1 crossed into this region last August, low-energy charged particles that had been plentiful suddenly zipped outside while high-energy cosmic rays from interstellar space streamed inward.”  The finding continued, “readings by one of Voyager 1’s instruments showed an abrupt increase in the magnetic field strength, but there was no change in the direction of the magnetic field lines; a sign that Voyager 1 has not yet exited the solar system.”  Scientists will be watching for any signs of the spaceships exit but one thing for which scientists are certain; the nuclear powered spacecraft has enough fuel to continue operating until 2020.  When it does finally leave our solar system, it will mark the first time that any ship has achieved that feat.  The information it sends back to earth will go far in answering many questions about what is actually out there.

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