The 36-year-old probe known as Voyager 1 has official reached interstellar space, a place between star systems which has never before been reached by an object made by humans. NASA has announced that Voyager 1 has reached a point 12 billion miles from our sun – that’s 19 billion kilometers – and it carries with it a message from Earth. Having reached this point away from our solar system, Voyager 1 has sent back data suggesting that it’s just completed an aproximately 1-year-long journey through plasma to reach its current location in space.
The Voyager 1 mission was launched on September 5th, 1977, aiming to push ever outward, studying the outer reaches of our Solar System and interstellar space, gathering information on interstellar medium and the unknown. A message was sent today by a collection of scientists and celebrities who have dedicated themselves to furthering our exploration of outer space, wishing Voyager 1 well and recounting the importance of this mission.
Here you’ll also learn more about the Voyager Golden Record, a gold-plated audio-visual disc currently floating along with Voyager 1 to deliver a message of greeting and knowledge should it ever be found by alien lifeforms. Greetings were recorded by children like Carl Sagan’s son (in English) and a woman named Janet Sternberg (in Portugese) to accompany blips from the President of the United States (Jimmy Carter that was, at the time), as well as a collection of audio recordings called “Sounds of Earth”. Wil Wheaton is here too!
The image you’re seeing above is a rendering done by an artist with credit going to NASA/JPL-Caltech, here showing interstellar space in a smooth orange. This orange tone was taken from visible-light images captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope from stars as they travel through interstellar space in the Orion nebula.
Now we wait to see if NASA discovers anything out of the ordinary – even if they don’t, every bit of data sent back by Voyager 1 expands our understanding of the universe: this is all brand new!