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Voyager Spacecraft is Leaving the Solar System

A new frontier has been reached.  The Voyager 1 spacecraft, which was launched 35 years ago, is on the verge of reaching the edge of the solar system.   NASA says that the Voyager will be the first man made spacecraft to leave the solar system in 1 – 2 years.

“We are approaching the solar system’s frontier,” said Ed Stone, one of the Voyager scientists at Cal Tech University.

New data indicate that Voyager is approaching the “heliopause,” which is the border between our solar system and interstellar space.   At the heliopause, the solar winds from the sun stop and magnetic fields shift over to those of deep space.

“The latest data indicate that we are clearly in a new region where things are changing more quickly,” said Stone.

Voyager 1 has a sister ship, Voyager 2, and both have explored the outer planets of the solar system during the 1980s.   Scientists still debate what exactly defines the edge of the solar system.

“The most surprising thing about the outer limits of the solar system is how dynamic it is,” NASA research scientist Eric Christian told USA Today. “Even though the outer solar system is an extremely good vacuum, there is still a lot going on. We’re going where no one has been before.”

Both of the spacecraft continue to make discoveries about the solar system that end up surprising scientists.

“We’ve been surprised by Voyager again and again,” Christian says. “I actually think that the Voyager mission is one of NASA’s best success stories. That both Voyagers are still working well, nearly 35 years after launch, and sending back important science from 10 billion miles away is truly amazing.”

The craft are expected to continue going “forever,” and will reach another star in about 200,000 years.  They are expected to lose their ability to transmit data back to earth sometime between 2020 and 2025.

Source: Techyville.com

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