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NASA’s Voyager 1 Has Left the Building! (aka Solar System)

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In another first for mankind's exploration of space, the Voyager 1 Space Probe has entered Interstellar space.

We first discussed this event here on GEEK almost a year ago, when the Voyager 1 started to near what scientist’s assumed was the Heliosphere’s edge, which is basically a bubble of charged particles that surrounds the solar system. Today NASA received strong evidence that Voyager 1 has in fact left the Heliosphere, and has become the first man made object to do so:

New and unexpected data indicate Voyager 1 has been traveling for about one year through plasma, or ionized gas, present in the space between stars. Voyager is in a transitional region immediately outside the solar bubble, where some effects from our sun are still evident. A report on the analysis of this new data, an effort led by Don Gurnett and the plasma wave science team at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, is published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Science. 

“Now that we have new, key data, we believe this is mankind’s historic leap into interstellar space,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. “The Voyager team needed time to analyze those observations and make sense of them. But we can now answer the question we’ve all been asking — ‘Are we there yet?’ Yes, we are.” 

Here’s a bit more from CNN on the historic event:

“In leaving the heliosphere and setting sail on the cosmic seas between the stars, Voyager has joined other historic journeys of exploration: The first circumnavigation of the Earth, the first steps on the Moon,” said Ed Stone, chief scientist on the Voyager mission. “That’s the kind of event this is, as we leave behind our solar bubble.”

Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 with a sister probe known as Voyager 2 launched 16 days after. As of today, Voyager 1 is 18.8 billion miles away from Earth, with Voyager 2 following at 15.3 billion miles away. 

For those interested there is a ton of further information regarding the science behind this announcement at the links provided. For us geeks, this may be one of the first steps towards our own eventual interstellar travel plans we have been dreaming about for years.

Image: NASA

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