Voyager 1

35 years, 1 month and 5 days ago, an object was sitting in Florida awaiting it's launch into space. The object was Voyager 1, a probe to be sent to the outer planets of the solar system to take our first look at these incredible worlds. We know a lot more about Jupiter and Saturn because of the Voyager spacecraft, and they gave us some of the most incredible imagery of the planets.

It also gave us the most incredible photo of our own solar system, The Family Photo, and the world famous photo, now known as The Pale Blue Dot.

Launching in 1977, the space craft encountered Jupiter first in 1979, and then moved onto Saturn in 1980, before it's mission was complete. It had done everything it had been designed to do, and gave us inspiration like no other. Instead of forgetting about it, it entered it's new mission - to keep going.

Today, in 2012, Voyager is still reporting back. 35 years later, Voyager 1 is likely to become the first ever man-made object to leave the solar system. Currently, as of 9th September 2012,  that's 1.13218×1010 (11'321'800'000) miles from home. It likely entered the termination shock in 2005, which is the space in which the solar wind from the sun is less that of the speed of sound. Then, NASA suggested it has entered the heliosheath, an area beyond the termination shock. We have no idea what this is made of or what it looks like, as nothing has been outside of our system to look back into it.

Early this summer NASA suggested that readings from Voyager 1 suggest that it is now into the heliopause, which is the point at which the sun's power and wind is pushed back the interstellar medium - if you think about it like water, it's the point where the river meets the ocean, and there are no longer any vestiges of the river upon the object. It would be the moment Voyager 1 leaves the sun and star that gives life to the species that created it.

It is a startling thought. We have an object we created further than anything has ever been sent before, and will ever be sent - even a probe going faster than Voyager 1, New Horizons, won't ever catch up due to the boost Voyager got from it's passing of Saturn.





Space continues to fascinate me.