Friday, April 27, 2012

Voyager 1 Close to the Edge of the Solar System

According to recent research published in Geophysical Letters, the probe is now 111 astronomical units from the sun - meaning it is 111 times further from the sun than it is from the Earth. [sic -- it actually means that it is 111 times further from the sun than is the Earth].

Voyager 1 has been exploring the fringes of the solar system since 2004 - and it is now close to the very edge of our solar system, affording the first-ever 'alien's eye' view of our planet.

The probe is still detecting 'spikes' in the intensity of cosmic ray electrons - which lead scientists to think it's still within the 'heliosheath', the very outer edge of our solar system.

Voyager 1 still has a little way to go before it completely exits the solar system and becomes the first manmade probe to cross into interstellar space, or the vast space between stars.

The spacecraft has enough battery power to last until 2020, but scientists think it will reach interstellar space before that - in a matter of several months to years.

Chief scientist Ed Stone of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the timing is unclear because no spacecraft has ever ventured this far.
Interesting graphics at the link.

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