36 years later, Voyager 1 has reached interstellar space

Next stop: a massive comet field. 


Sarah Weber

Internet Culture

Published Jul 9, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 11:57 pm CDT

Human technology has indeed reached interstellar space, researchers tracking NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft have now confirmed.

Featured Video Hide

Last year NASA announced that the little probe that could, launched 36 years ago, was traveling through the plasma that makes up the space between stars, a feat confirmed after researchers analyzed the differences in its readings of a large solar eruption compared to previous data.

Advertisement Hide

Now, with readings from another solar event, researchers said they can confirm Voyager 1 has indeed left the heliosphere, “a bubble of charged particles surrounding the sun that reaches far beyond the outer planets,” according to NASA.

“Normally, interstellar space is like a quiet lake,” Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., the mission’s project scientist since 1972, said in a statement. “But when our sun has a burst, it sends a shock wave outward that reaches Voyager about a year later. The wave causes the plasma surrounding the spacecraft to sing.”

Voyager is now an estimated 19 billion kilometers from Earth—the farthest human-made probe and the first to travel into interstellar space—but it still has not left the solar system. To do that it’ll have to get past a “final halo of comets surrounding the sun,” according to NASA. 


H/T Space.com |  Photo via NASA

Share this article
*First Published: Jul 9, 2014, 2:34 pm CDT