More three decades after launching, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft may be close to becoming the first man-made object to exit our solar system.
There are a few indications that the probe, currently around 11 billion miles away from the sun, is reaching the space between stars known as interstellar space.
Our sun emits a stream of charged particles that form a bubble around our solar system known as the heliosphere.
According to NASA, the border between interstellar space and the heliosphere is somewhere between 10 and 14 billion miles, though best estimates put it at 11 billion miles — the same distance Voyager 1 is from the sun. Even if interstellar space is farther than 11 billion miles, the spacecraft moves outward a billion miles every three years, so it would be getting close to the milestone.
While Voyager 1 is still in the heliosphere, new data also suggests that the intensity of energetic particles from inside the bubble are slowing down, while the intensity from charged particles near the outer shell of the bubble, known as the heliosheath, are ramping up.
Voyager scientists still have to analyse the latest data set, which they believe will shed more light on when the probe will break through the solar boundary.
Voyager 1’s twin, Voyager 2 is moving slower and is currently about 9 billion miles away from the sun.
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