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Articles / Astronomy

 
 

Ever since its launch in 1977, the Voyager I has been cruising to the outer edges of our solar system. The historic event of a spacecraft going beyond the border of the system is very close to happening, if it hasn't happened already.

From January of 2009 to January of this year, the probe has seen a 25% increase in space particles around it. The month of May saw a huge 9% increase.  A lot of those particles end up heading towards Earth, but they usually get deflected by the Sun. The more particles there are, the farther the vessel is away from Earth. Right now the Voyager 1 is 11.1 billion miles away from the Earth's surface, which is far enough for its signals to take over 16 hours to reach NASA's surface operators. It has now practically left the Sun's sphere of influence. 

It's hard to define the borders of our solar system, so one of the most historic space exploration events humanity has ever seen may have already happened without our knowledge. NASA is currently crunching numbers to narrow it down. The number of particles and cosmic rays the probe encounters are the major factor in figuring out when the Voyager 1 will really leave up to its name. 

Accidents can always happen at the worst time, but it looks like one of the biggest achievements in space exploration since the Moon landing is only a matter of when, not if. When it does happen, it will be another giant leap for mankind.

By Denis Ivanov



Source: NASA
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