Thirty-five years ago the Voyager 1 was launched to head out into the furthest reaches of space, beyond our solar system. According to NASA, data indicates that Voyager 1 is reaching the final frontier of our solar system, based on the intensity of charged particles.
“The laws of physics say that someday Voyager will become the first human-made object to enter interstellar space, but we still do not know exactly when that someday will be,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “The latest data indicate that we are clearly in a new region where things are changing more quickly. It is very exciting. We are approaching the solar system’s frontier.”
Thoughts of Star Trek, folks.
But how does NASA measure this data? The data makes a “16-hour-38 minute, 11.1-billion-mile (17.8-billion-kilometer), journey from Voyager 1 to antennas of NASA’s Deep Space Network on Earth detail the number of charged particles measured by the two High Energy telescopes aboard the 34-year-old spacecraft. These energetic particles were generated when stars in our cosmic neighborhood went supernova.”
“From January 2009 to January 2012, there had been a gradual increase of about 25 percent in the amount of galactic cosmic rays Voyager was encountering,” said Stone. “More recently, we have seen very rapid escalation in that part of the energy spectrum. Beginning on May 7, the cosmic ray hits have increased five percent in a week and nine percent in a month.”
NASA believes that they will know that Voyager 1 has passed beyond the solar system when the magnetic fields in deep space shift from an east-west orientation in our solar system to a north-south orientation (whatever that means in space, which has no real direction).
Note that aboard Voyager 1 is the Voyager Golden Record which was an attempt to describe Earth for any extra-terrestrials that might come upon the spacecraft. On the record, 116 images and sounds of nature, music (including Bach, which they believed ETs would understand because of his mathematical notation), Chuck Berry, Mozart, Beethoven, as well as a silhouette of a naked man and woman on the cover of the record. Originally, they were to be full illustrations but, naturally, this set off a bit of controversy amongst conservatives who are notoriously ashamed of human bodies and the human desire for sex.
Below, check out Carl Sagan’s speech “Pale Blue Dot” inspired by a photo of Earth taken by Voyager 1.