In a few weeks’ time, Voyager 1 will be 100 AU from the Sun. (An AU, or Astronomical Unit, is the distance from Earth to the Sun).

Voyager was launched nearly 29 years ago. Voyager 1 has flown by Jupiter and Saturn, while Voyager 2 has flown by Neptune and Uranus as well.

Both Voyagers are still transmitting back to Earth, sending data about their outer space environment back to NASA/JPL for analysis.

According to NASA/JPL:

Termination Shock

Voyager 1 crossed the termination shock and entered the heliosheath in December 2004, at 94 AU. It is expected that Voyager 1 will reach the heliopause in about 2015.

Voyager 2 could cross the termination shock between 2008 and 2010 and reach the heliopause about 10 years later.

The above diagram shows the position of Voyager 1 and 2 relative to our Sun at the centre of the heliosphere, showing the effect of the solar wind and its interaction with the interstellar medium at the boundary of the heliopause.

This delicate little machine is our farthest ambassador to outer space. This stuff sends tingles down my spine – a few friends were discussing how hard now it seems to remember seeing humans walk on the moon (our teachers at school just plonked us down in front of the TV to see the broadcasts), we’re planning for humans to walk on Mars within a few decades, and yes, we very nearly have sent a machine from Earth into true interstellar space.

If we don’t blow ourselves to pieces in the meantime, one day we will voyage to the stars.

Tip o’the hat to TC.

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