Last September, NASA officials were confident the Voyager 1 probe had passed into interstellar space. They weren’t 100% positive, though. Today, they are.
What makes researchers so sure today? Radiation from the sun described as a “tsunami wave” enabled scientists to calculate exactly how far away the Voyager 1 spacecraft is from Earth. The spacecraft sits over 11 billion miles from Earth and continues its trek into the unknown everyday.
“We can say that it confirms we are in interstellar space,” said the research team.
Besides the distance traveled, researchers looked at the area surrounding the Voyager 1 to determine if it had reached interstellar space. That “tsunami wave” came from a coronal mass ejection (CME) in the Sun. These CMEs cause any particles around the Voyager to vibrate.
How dense the particles are around the Voyager can give researchers an idea on if the spacecraft has officially entered interstellar space. The space around the Voyager 1 was so empty there’s no doubt that it has entered interstellar space.
With the Voyager 1 now in interstellar space, its mission continues.
“All is not quiet around Voyager,” Don Gurnett of the University of Iowa, the principal investigator of the plasma wave instrument on Voyager, said in a statement. “We’re excited to analyze these new data. So far, we can say that it confirms we are in interstellar space.”
The Voyager 1 will soon have company in interstellar space. Voyager 2 is following in its footsteps and should hit interstellar space in the next few years.
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