Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Far-away Ambassador

While the rest of the space community is talking about China’s successful launch of three astronauts—technically the term is taikonauts, but I hate this word—to their space station, I would like to avert your attention to another historic milestone in space exploration:

Two days ago, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory issued a press release, in which they indicated that Voyager 1, the probe NASA launched in 1977, have reached the edge of interstellar space and began to leave our solar system. At nearly eighteen billion kilometers away from Earth, Voyager entered a region of space where the number of charged particles increased significantly, which made JPL scientists believe that the probe reached the heliosheath, the border of the sun’s protective bubble that marks the end of our solar system. With this historic landmark, the 34-year old spacecraft is the farthest man-made object away from Earth, our true  ambassador  on a one-way trip to the center of the galaxy. And the best part is that Voyager 1 has an estimated fifteen years left of its energy supply, promising us many more years of incredible data from a region of space, of which we have no knowledge. Pretty exciting!

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