Voyager 1 Is Poised to Go Where No Spacecraft Has Gone Before
The probe Voyager 1 is about to go where no one has gone before: beyond our solar system. The probe is heading toward the edge of the Heliosphere--the edge of our Sun's influence--and head into interstellar space.
Voyager 1 and it's twin, Voyager 2, were launched a few weeks apart in 1977 and to this day are the only spacecraft that have visited the planets Neptune and Uranus. Think about it: the grand total sum of our knowledge about those two gas giants was obtained by one small probe.
On their "Grand Tour" of the outer planets, the Voyagers were the first to detect:
- What could be a liquid ocean under Jupiter's moon Europa's icy crust.
- Volcanoes on Jupiter's moon of Io.
- That Titan--a moon of Saturn--has a thick, hazy atmosphere.
- Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to fly by and photograph Neptune and Uranus.
- And possibly what lies beyond our solar system.
Both Voyager 1 and 2 are carrying gold-plated copper phonograph records intended to be a message for any alien civilization that may encounter the probes. The records are cultural time capsules that the Voyagers bear with them to other star systems. They contain images and natural sounds, spoken greetings in 55 languages and musical selections from different cultures and eras.
Some scientists theorize that even though Voyager 1 is the closest to the edge of the Heliosphere, the journey could take another two years to pass into interstellar space.And once there? Scientists have no idea what they'll find.
Voyager 1 is currently 11.3 billion miles from Earth, but it better hurry. The batteries will likely run out by 2025.