Voyager Has Left the Building
NASA announced in a Science journal article this week that the Voyager 1 spacecraft is the first human-made object reach interstellar space.
The spacecraft is 12 billion miles away from us and our space agency thought it was at the edge of the solar system, where the Sun can still influence it, but it actually has been in "the space between the stars" for about a year.
A science team at the University of Iowa presented evidence in Thursday's edition of the journal Science. Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, said in a news release, "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."
A coronal mass ejection from the sun in early 2012 arrived at Voyager 1's location over a year later, in April 2013. The spacecraft's instruments measured the energy plasma and they determined that the numbers showed Voyager was already in interstellar space.
Further study showed that the spacecraft had probably left the solar system in early 2012.
The photos sent back from Voyager and its twin Voyager II as they passed by some of our planets were ground-breaking. And it is still operating after 36 years.
Here's a great, short video from JPL about the milestone in human science.