Magazine article Science News

Voyager 1 Still in Solar System: Scientists Wait for Craft to Reach Interstellar Space

Magazine article Science News

Voyager 1 Still in Solar System: Scientists Wait for Craft to Reach Interstellar Space

Article excerpt

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched 35 years ago on September 5, 1977, is ready to plunge into interstellar space. Soon the craft will leave the solar system behind, bursting through the windy bubble blown by the sun.

The question is: How soon? That boundary may be a bit farther away than expected, a team from Johns Hopkins University suggests in the Sept. 6 Nature.

NASA reported earlier this year that Voyager 1, the most distant spacecraft from Earth at more than 18 billion kilometers away, had detected two major signs heralding its impending exit from the solar system. But after analyzing data from an earlier series of rolling maneuvers, scientists didn't detect the expected stream of charged particles thought to signify the solar system's edge.

At that edge, such particles should reroute to flow in the direction of the sun's poles, forming a stream that coats the inner surface of the bubble-shaped boundary. …

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