Voyager 1 Leaves the Solar System, Maybe?


Voyager Spacecraft ( Source: NASA/JPL)

The Voyager 1 spacecraft is the most distant human-made object at over 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) away from our sun. The mission of the Voyager spacecraft both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, was to explore Jupiter and Saturn. After major success, the mission was extended to have Voyager 2 explore Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 1 is still operating and sending back data after more than 35 years later. The new mission of the Voyager spacecraft named, the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM), is to explore space outside of our solar system, which is all new territory for us.

We have been anticipating Voyager 1 to finally leave our solar system completely and enter interstellar space, one group thinks we have done just that. UMD research scientist Marc Swisdak,  James F. Drake and Merav Opher of Boston University believe that recent data suggests that Voyager 1 is now in interstellar  space, this conflicts with NASA’s view of the data in which they believe the spacecraft is still on the outer edge of our solar system.

It’s a somewhat controversial view, but we think Voyager has finally left the Solar System, and is truly beginning its travels through the Milky Way”

It’s all about our sun’s magnetic field and how it interacts with the magnetic field of interstellar space. The direction that the magnetic field of interstellar space is coming from is the source of controversy. As NASA writes, “Other models envision the interstellar magnetic field draped around our solar bubble and predict that the direction of the interstellar magnetic field is different from the solar magnetic field inside. By that interpretation, Voyager 1 would still be inside our solar bubble.”. This is in contrast to the view that the interstellar magnetic field direction is the same as that which originates from our sun, which would mean that Voyager 1 left our solar system back on July 27th, 2012.

This is obviously new for everyone and discussions will need to continue in order to better understand what’s going on at the edge of our solar system. The best thing we can do is continue to analyze new data as it comes in and hopefully it will provide a clearer picture.

You can read the original article from NASA about this topic and you can learn more about the Voyager spacecraft from a post we did last year.


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