News Flash: Voyager 1 Space Probe Reaches New Frontier 33 Years After Launch


"If I had to pick one surprise that stands out on Voyager, it would be the volcanoes on Io [one of Jupiter's moons] . Finding a moon that's 100 times more active volcanically than the entire Earth, it's really quite striking. And this was typical of what Voyager was going to do on the rest of its journey through the outer solar system. This was really beyond imagination."

Ed Stone, Voyager Project Scientist, Caltech.

NASA's Voyager 1 probe has reached a new frontier, 33 years into its voyage to the edge of the solar system and beyond. Since June, when it was 17 billion kilometers from the sun, it has stopped viewing particles in the solar wind streaming outwards due to incoming interstellar particles pushing the solar wind sideways.

"The solar wind has turned the corner," Voyager project scientist Ed Stone of Caltech said in a statement. "Voyager 1 is getting close to interstellar space." One of Stone's most famous contributions to space exploration is his role as project scientist for the Voyager mission, whose twin spacecraft studied Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune between 1979 and 1989.

Voyager 1 is expected to leave the solar system and enter interstellar space four years from now (click here for a definition of the regions in the illustration above).

Its sister spacecraft, Voyager 2, has been travelling in a different direction and at a slightly slower speed; it is expected to pass various solar system thresholds a few years after its faster sibling, NASA says.

Voyager 1's results were presented on Monday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.


Casey Kazan via NASA and New Scientist


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