Voyager 1 reaches the edges of the solar system
By Melissa Bell - Washington Post
It is a space mission 33 years in the making: The Voyager 1 spacecraft will cross a boundary not yet crossed before. It will leave our solar system and enter interstellar space.
Launched in 1977, the unmanned ship is about 10.8 billion miles away from the sun, in an area of the solar system called the heliosheath. The heliosheath is the final area of the solar system where the sun's wind blows. Past that point, it's a whole new world.
Again, though, we're talking about NASA time. So the final miles the Voyager needs to cross before it reaches that whole new world will probably take four years, NASA reports.
Though the primary purpose of the Voyager is to collect data, it does have an onboard message if any aliens should come across it. The Voyager Golden Record has "115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals... musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages."
AND another article ----------
33 year journey of Voyager 1 spacecraft 14 Dec 2010
Voyager 1's journey 14 Dec 2010
NASA has announced that, after 33 years of exploring, the probe is expected to venture out of the Solar System and cross into the interstellar space – the outer perimeter of our solar system – in the next four years.
Voyager 1 was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on the 5th September, 1977 as part of a twin mission with Voyager 2. The two probes were launched separately, but both were released into space from a NASA Titan IIIE/Centaur rocket.
The twin space probes were originally approved by the US Government as a two-planet, 5-year mission exploring Jupiter and Saturn. NASA, however, timed their launch so that if things went well the mission could expand to further planets, which is exactly what happened: the mission was first extended to 12 years and four planets and their rings and moons, and is still going strong 33 years and approximately 11 billion miles of space flight later.
As part of the original mission, Voyager I toured Jupiter, Saturn, Saturn’s rings, the larger moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The twin probes were subsequently sent to do fly-bys of nearby planets Uranus and Neptune, and since have explored all of the giant outer planets of the solar system, including 48 of their moons, and all their unique systems of rings and magnetic fields. The two Voyager probes are powered by electricity generated by nuclear power processors on-board.
According to NASA, the original two-planet mission alone would have “rewritten textbooks”, but the information provided to date by the two planets “has revolutionised the science of planetary astronomy, helping to resolve key questions while raising intriguing new ones about the origin and evolution of the planets in our solar system.”
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