The Voyager 1 has truly gone where no man has gone before – the brave shuttle is now more than 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the sun, closer and closer to becoming the first man-made object to reach interstellar space.
To me, it’s just baffling that we sent something 18 billion kilometers from the sun – just so you can make an idea, the distance between the Sun and the Earth is approximately 150 million km; and it’s still providing valuable data! A new research using data from the Voyager 1 showed was published in the journal Science today, offering details on the last region the spacecraft will cross before it leaves the heliosphere, or the bubble around our sun, and enters interstellar space.
Currently, Voyager 1 is in a region called the ‘magnetic highway’ – a region of charged particles which exists because our sun’s magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines.
“This strange, last region before interstellar space is coming into focus, thanks to Voyager 1, humankind’s most distant scout,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “If you looked at the cosmic ray and energetic particle data in isolation, you might think Voyager had reached interstellar space, but the team feels Voyager 1 has not yet gotten there because we are still within the domain of the sun’s magnetic field.”
So when will Voyager actually leave the solar system and reach interstellar space? It’s not really certain – it’s not like there’s a big border around the solar system. Astronomers believe it will take at least a few months, and possibly a couple of years. The Voyager 1 spacecraft was launched by NASA on September 5, 1977.