Applied Technology Institute (ATICourses) offers a variety of Space & Satellite related courses. We thought the news below could be of interest to our readers.
In recent months it has appeared likely that Voyager 1, a probe launched in 1977, has gone beyond our solar system but now it’s official: the spacecraft has left the building.
This makes it the first human-made object to move beyond the Sun, its planets and its heliosphere, a region of space dominated by the Sun and its wind of energetic particles.
The findings are to be published in Geophysical Research Letters (see abstract).
In their article the authors write:
“It appears that [Voyager 1] has exited the main solar modulation region, revealing [hydrogen] and [helium] spectra characteristic of those to be expected in the local interstellar medium.”
And so there you have it, humans are an interstellar species. This is the century in which we have sent a machine on the path to the stars. Will a spacecraft carrying humans join it next century?
We can only hope.
UPDATE: NASA says not so fast, reiterating a position it took last December when questions arose about Voyager’s exit from the solar system:
“The Voyager team is aware of reports today that NASA’s Voyager 1 has left the solar system,” said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. “It is the consensus of the Voyager science team that Voyager 1 has not yet left the solar system or reached interstellar space. In December 2012, the Voyager science team reported that Voyager 1 is within a new region called ‘the magnetic highway’ where energetic particles changed dramatically. A change in the direction of the magnetic field is the last critical indicator of reaching interstellar space, and that change of direction has not yet been observed.”
Well, that’s interesting.