The final frontier: Voyager 1 at edge of solar system
Tuesday 04 December 2012
A US spacecraft launched in 1977 has reached the final frontier at the edge of the Solar System.
Scientists say Voyager 1 has entered a "new region" of the Solar System which could be its gateway to interstellar space.
The border region is described as a "magnetic highway" for outgoing charged particles from the sun and incoming particles from the stars.
"Although Voyager 1 still is inside the sun's environment, we now can taste what it's like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway," said project scientist Dr Edward Stone, from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
"We believe this is the last leg of our journey to interstellar space. Our best guess is it's likely just a few months to a couple of years away. The new region isn't what we expected, but we've come to expect the unexpected from Voyager."
Scientists are still gathering data from two instruments aboard the ancient spacecraft that measure charged particles.
Voyager 1 and 2 were launched 16 days apart in 1977 on a "grand tour" of planets including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Voyager 1 is now the most distant human-made object, 11 billion miles from the sun. Signals from the probe take around 17 hours to reach Earth.
Voyager 2, lagging some way behind, is about nine billion miles from the sun.
Both craft carry pictures and messages for any intelligent aliens that might intercept them as they journey between the stars.
New results from Voyager 1 were presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute
The ten coldest places on Earth
Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
Krokodil in Mexico? Teenager hospitalised after 'injecting drug into her genitals'
Nelson Mandela memorial: Cheers, jeers and a masterclass from Barack Obama that stole the show
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute
- 2 It’s shameful that our universities have accepted gender segregation under pressure from the most oppressive religious fanatics
- 3 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 4 Exeter to Edinburgh and back in a day: How one fresher's lost bet left him facing a 900-mile round trip
- 5 Selfie at funeral: Cameron squeezes in on Obama snap at Mandela memorial
- < Previous
- Next >
£34999 - £44001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A Top 10 Accounta...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Product Specia...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Business Analy...
£23500 per annum: Harrington Starr: Graduate Software Support Analyst (Compute...