Voyager 1 entering interstellar space

The Voyager 1 spacecraft is leaving the solar system for interstellar space. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL

She started her long journey some 33 years ago. The Voyager 1 spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in 1977 on what would mark one of the most successful space exploration missions in history. The spacecraft is just now leaving our solar system and heading out into interstellar space.

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached the edge of the solar system where the momentum of the solar wind ends. This is a major milestone for the program, which is still operated out of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) located in Pasadena, California.

Voyager 1 is now heading into interstellar space some 10.8 billion miles away from the sun. Voyager 1 has crossed into an area where the velocity of the hot ionized gases (plasma) that comes from the sun has slowed to almost nothing.

“The solar wind has turned the corner,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. “Voyager 1 is getting close to interstellar space.”

The ‘solar wind’ is the stream of charged particles that form a bubble known as the heliosphere around our entire solar system. This ‘wind’ travels at supersonic speed until it crosses a shockwave dubbed the termination shock.

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