Voyager Spacecraft Prepares to Exit the Solar System

By Eliza Strickland | December 14, 2010 12:32 pm

voyager-1Into the great unknown, into the wild blue yonder, past the second star on the right and straight on till morning: That’s where NASA’s Voyager 1 is heading. The remarkable spacecraft was launched 33 years ago, and it’s now reaching the edge of our solar system. Within a few years, NASA says, it will enter interstellar space.

Phil Plait reports on how researchers realized they’d reached a milestone in Voyager 1’s journey:

Over all those years, there has been one constant in the Voyager flight: the solar wind blowing past it. This stream of subatomic particles leaves the Sun at hundreds of kilometers per second, much faster than Voyager. But now, after 33 years, that has changed: at 17 billion kilometers (10.6 billion miles) from the Sun, the spacecraft has reached the point where the solar wind has slowed to a stop. Literally, the wind is no longer at Voyager’s back.

Read the rest of his post at Bad Astronomy.

Related Content:
80beats: The Edge of the Solar System Is a Weird and Erratic Place
80beats: Near the Edge of the Solar System, Voyager 2 Finds Magnetic Fluff
80beats: NASA Spacecraft Will Soon Map the Solar System’s Distant Edge
80beats: Voyager 2 Hits the Edge of the Solar System—and Writes Home

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space
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