Can you recall what you were doing on September 5, 1977?
That’s the day NASA launched Voyager I, on a trip to photograph planets in our solar system more close up than we can get with Earth-bound telescopes. The Hubble Space Telescope was not even on the drawing board then.
After completing its mission, Voyager I continued on its path. Scientists thought it would survive to leave the solar systems, and a few forward-looking thinkers hoped to learn more about just how far the influence of our Sun really extends. At some point, Voyager I would leave space where the chief gravitational and wind influence is the Sun, and move into truly inter-stellar (“between the stars”) space, where gravity and particle emissions are dominated by other objects in our galaxy.
Last week NASA announced that time came in August of 2012, confirmed by data transmitted back to earth by Voyager’s primitive capabilities, over the last year.
Space.com explains it well:
Interesting to think of the investment in thought, money, effort and patience by scientists and policy-makers to wait more than 35 years for such a research result.
- Voyager 1 captures first-ever sounds of interstellar space (nbcnews.com)
- Voyager 1 captures the sounds of interstellar space (earthsky.org)
- NASA: Voyager 1 Officially Reaches Interstellar Space (sciencespacerobots.com)
- Voyager 1 Treks Into Interstellar Space, an Unexpected Frontier (bloomberg.com)
- It’s Official: Voyager 1 Is an Interstellar Probe (science.slashdot.org)