- Voyager Spacecraft Near Edge of Heliosphere (flickR User/NASAblueshift)
Have you ever wondered what lies beyond our Solar System?
The longest-operating spacecraft in NASA history are about to leave our Solar System.
Yesterday marked the 35th anniversary
of Voyager1’s launch
to Jupiter and Saturn, it is now more than 11 billion miles from the sun.
It’s twin spacecraft, Voyager 2, is currently around 9 billion miles from the sun after becoming the only craft to ever fly past Uranus and Neptune.
Both Voyagers are nearing the fringes of our solar system, which is enveloped in a giant plasma bubble. Radio signals from Voyager 1 take 17 hours to reach Earth.
You’ve probably seen many of the famous photos taken by Voyager 1 as it passed Jupiter and Saturn. The cameras aboard the spacecraft have been turned off, but five instruments continue to study magnetic fields, cosmic rays and charged particles from the sun known as solar wind.
The nuclear-powered spacecraft also carry gold-plated discs containing multilingual greetings, music and pictures in case any intelligent species come across them. The Voyagers have enough fuel to continue operating until around 2020.
Each Voyager only has 68 kilobytes of computer memory, compared to an 8-gigabyte iPod Nano which is 100,000 times more powerful.
And here’s something to think about, both of these 35-year-old space travelers has an eight-track tape recorder on board. So aliens can play their KISS 8-tracks.