Voyager 1 Enters Interstellar Space

Voyager 1 Enters Interstellar Space

NASA has confirmed that Voyager 1 is now officially traveling through interstellar space.

The gun was jumped a bit back in March when it was first reported that the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which launched on September 5, 1977, had left our solar system and entered interstellar space. Following the initial reports, NASA issued a statement saying that although Voyager had entered a previously unknown area of space it called "the magnetic highway," it was still within the confines of our system.

Today, however, NASA says it's official: Voyager 1 is the first human-made object to reach interstellar space. "Now that we have new, key data, we believe this is mankind's historic leap into interstellar space," said Voyager Project Scientist Ed Stone. "The Voyager team needed time to analyze those observations and make sense of them. But we can now answer the question we've all been asking -- 'Are we there yet?' Yes, we are."

Because Voyager 1 doesn't have a working plasma sensor, scientists had to rely on a fortunately-timed "coronal mass ejection" - an eruption of solar wind and magnetic fields that occurred in March 2012 and reached the probe in April 2013, providing the science team the means to measure the density of the plasma surrounding the probe and determine that it is, in fact, in interstellar space.

"We literally jumped out of our seats when we saw these oscillations in our data -- they showed us the spacecraft was in an entirely new region, comparable to what was expected in interstellar space, and totally different than in the solar bubble," Don Gurnett of the plasma wave science team at the University of Iowa said. "Clearly we had passed through the heliopause, which is the long-hypothesized boundary between the solar plasma and the interstellar plasma."

NASA's associate administrator for science John Grunsfeld described the event as "one of the most significant technological achievements in the annals of the history of science" and said it marked a new chapter in human scientific dreams and endeavors. "Perhaps some future deep space explorers will catch up with Voyager, our first interstellar envoy, and reflect on how this intrepid spacecraft helped enable their journey."

Source: NASA

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Anyone want to take bets on how many scientists will come out saying, "No, we're not there yet, we still need to pass through the X zone before it's out of the solar system," as opposed to the ones who will say, "Finally they admit it, Voyager was long gone a while ago"?

(Probably not that many, but still. Scientists. They so contentious. :D)

That's awesome. I love reading about stuff like this. We're literally pushing the boundaries of what it is to be human, and boldly going where no man has gone before (well, space probe, but whatever). Pretty soon we'll be figuring out a way to build a ship that can make it there and back. Or at least I hope we will.

What, again?

Honestly, it's not bloody rocket science.

Watch out, the prophecy says it will soon become self aware!

image

Hmm, Interstellar Space starts before the edge of our Oort Cloud? It'll be another 14,000 to 28,000 years before it really leaves our solar system by passing through the Oort Cloud.

'77? Proxima Centauri here we come!

How many times am I going to hear this story? I mean honestly, hasn't this been reported multiple times in the past?

Chaosian:
How many times am I going to hear this story? I mean honestly, hasn't this been reported multiple times in the past?

Yup. Several. Picked up on here, too.

It loses a little bit after the fourth time it's happened.

Chaosian:
How many times am I going to hear this story? I mean honestly, hasn't this been reported multiple times in the past?

The problem is likely that you get your science news through journalists, who have a habit of turning things like "Voyager may be about to leave the solar system" into "Voyager has left the solar system". It's similar to how they hyped up the FTL neutrino thing; instead of reporting it as a probable measurement error, they pretended it had actually happened.

I formally propose a change to the title of this article to "Voyager 1 Enters Interstellar Space (Again)" as a lot of you also seem to be thinking the same thing.

Anyway, here's an XKCD for you:

image

Ah, yes ... Voyager 1 leaves the Solar System ... again.

FEichinger:
Ah, yes ... Voyager 1 leaves the Solar System ... again.

Yeah this is an excellent example of why popularity of NASA and even space in general is so low. They keep going on about the same thing and making little things out to be massive achievements then wonder why people get bored and wonder off.

As far as I'm concerned as soon as it passed the orbit of out last planet it left the solar system, which was many years ago :-)

RicoADF:

FEichinger:
Ah, yes ... Voyager 1 leaves the Solar System ... again.

Yeah this is an excellent example of why popularity of NASA and even space in general is so low. They keep going on about the same thing and making little things out to be massive achievements then wonder why people get bored and wonder off.

As far as I'm concerned as soon as it passed the orbit of out last planet it left the solar system, which was many years ago :-)

That's not NASA's doing, mate. That's journalists and news in general leaving out the details as usual.

bazaalmon:
That's awesome. I love reading about stuff like this. We're literally pushing the boundaries of what it is to be human, and boldly going where no man has gone before (well, space probe, but whatever). Pretty soon we'll be figuring out a way to build a ship that can make it there and back. Or at least I hope we will.

I don't think so with intellectual property and things like that we will be using same rocket designs for the next 200 years ;)

Snark snark heard this before snark no longer important snark.
Oh look,someone posted an XDCT comic, how droll :(

Or:
AWESOME! A nuclear powered space robot just left the solar system, for reals this time! I'll get the champagne!

V'GER LIVES! HAHAHAHAHA!

Ukomba:
Hmm, Interstellar Space starts before the edge of our Oort Cloud?

Yes. The Oort Cloud objects (and this is if it actually exists as a defined structure) are only very weakly bound to the sun, so such objects could indeed be described as interstellar. After all, they would interact significantly with galactic tidal forces and also other stars.
And the average velocity of such objects appears to be away from the sun, which leads to the idea that the cloud itself could more adequately be described as "a cloud of gradually expanding debris" rather than as being bound to the sun the way that, say, the inner planets are.

The next time we'll hear much of anything about this craft is when a half-wit klingon crew decide to use it for target practice!

 

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