After 35 years and 11 billion miles in space, the Voyager 1 spacecraft has finally reached the edge of our solar system. What did it find?
A magnetic highway where the sun’s magnetic field connects with interstellar magnetic fields and allows just a few particles to travel in and out of our solar system.
Think of it as a bouncer at a club who lets some folks in but not everyone.
Pretty cool, huh? That ain’t the half of it. Since they were launched, Voyagers 1 and 2 have changed the way we see outer space. They discovered stuff like Jupiter’s red spot is caused by swirling storms and Uranus has 10 moons we’d never seen from Earth.
Consider this– these ships are billions of miles away and they’re still able to receive orders from us and send back information within about 16 hours. Kind of makes a cellphone selfie (self-portrait) seem pretty lame, huh?
Scientists predict Voyager 1 won’t break through the magnetic highway for a couple of years, but when it does, it’ll carry with it a copper record album containing sounds and images from Earth, out to other galaxies (and maybe other species). Why a record and not a CD or mp3 player? Remember: the spaceship ‘was’ launched back in 1977.
Let’s hope aliens haven’t upgraded their tech yet or they’ll be screwed, and our interstellar recording of what it means to live on Earth might seem like nothing more than a cool gold frisbee.