SAN FRANCISCO - Reuters
Voyager 1 reaches ‘magnetic highway’ leading to interstellar space. REUTERS photo
NASA’s long-lived Voyager 1 spacecraft, which is heading out of the solar system, has reached a “magnetic highway” leading to interstellar space, scientists said on December 3.
The probe, launched 35 years ago to study the outer planets, is now about 11 billion miles (18 billion km) from Earth. At that distance, it takes radio signals traveling at the speed of light 17 hours to reach Earth. Light moves at 186,000 miles per second).
Voyager 1 will be the first manmade object to leave the solar system.
Scientists believe Voyager 1 is in an area where the magnetic field lines from the sun are connecting with magnetic field lines from interstellar space. The phenomenon is causing highly energetic particles from distant supernova explosions and other cosmic events to zoom inside the solar system, while less-energetic solar particles exit.
“It’s like a highway, letting particles in and out,” lead Voyager scientist Ed Stone told.