23 June 2012
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD
NASA announced yesterday that Voyager I, one of two space probes launched in 1977, is very close to entering interstellar space and becoming the first human-made object to leave the Solar System. Voyager 1 is currently transiting the heliosheath, which is the outermost layer of the heliosphere. (See image above, click to enlarge)
Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist, explains ~ "the heliosphere is a great magnetic bubble that surrounds the sun and planets. The heliosphere is the sun's own magnetic field inflated to gargantuan proportions by the solar wind. Inside lies the solar system ~ 'home'. Outside lies interstellar space, where no spacecraft has gone before."
Voyager 1 (see image below) and its sister craft, Voyager 2, had as their original mission the study of Jupiter and Saturn. Both probes were able to continue into the outer Solar System. The Voyager Program and the Pioneer Program have such provided a wealth of information that, given the technology of their time, they rival the Hubble Space Telescope. It is a feat which stirs the imagination that they continue to function and transmit data after 35 years.
Click here to learn more from the NASA announcement ~ be sure to view the embedded video. Enjoy.