Washington, Sep 14 (): The scientists have confirmed that they have strong evidence that NASA’s Voyager 1 has reached interstellar space and has become the first man made probe to exit the solar system.
Around August 25, 2012 the spacecraft entered this cold, unexplored interstellar region and is now about 19 billion km from our Sun. This is the first human-made spacecraft to leave the heliosphere, the magnetic boundary separating the solar system’s sun, planets and solar wind from the rest of the galaxy. Interstellar space is a place full of dust, plasma and other matter from exploded stars.
Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena said, “Now that we have new, key data, we believe this is mankind’s historic leap into interstellar space.”
Voyager 1, which is about the size of a small car, was launched on 5 September, 1977 to explore the outer planets. Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1980, concluding its primary mission.
Voyager 1 made its nearest approach to Jupiter on March 5, 1979, and its nearest approach to Saturn on Nov. 12, 1980. Now it crossed 11.6 billion miles from Earth. It is travelling at the speed of light and signals from Voyager 1 take about 17 hours to reach Earth and it will remain in communication with Earth until at least 2025.
At the rate of speed it is going, it would take nearly 40,000 years to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri.
NASA explained that Voyager 1 has been travelling for about a year through plasma, or ionised gas, present in the space between stars. Voyager 1 is equipped with a gold-plated record with images from Earth and greetings in 55 languages.
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched 16 days apart in 1977. Now, Voyager 2 is about 15 billion km away from our Sun.