Data From NASA’s Voyager 1 Point to Interstellar Future

Data  from NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft indicate that the venerable deep-space explorer  has encountered a region in space where the intensity of charged particles from  beyond our solar system has markedly increased. Voyager scientists looking at  this rapid rise draw closer to an inevitable but historic conclusion – that  humanity’s first emissary to interstellar space is on the edge of our solar  system.
“The  laws of physics say that someday Voyager will become the first human-made  object to enter interstellar space, but we still do not know exactly when that  someday will be,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the  California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “The latest data indicate  that we are clearly in a new region where things are changing more quickly. It is  very exciting. We are approaching the solar system’s frontier.”
The  data making the 16-hour-38 minute, 11.1-billion-mile (17.8-billion-kilometer),  journey from Voyager 1 to antennas of NASA’s Deep Space Network on Earth detail  the number of charged particles measured by the two High Energy telescopes  aboard the 34-year-old spacecraft. These energetic particles were generated  when stars in our cosmic neighborhood went supernova.
“From  January 2009 to January 2012, there had been a gradual increase of about 25  percent in the amount of galactic cosmic rays Voyager was encountering,”  said Stone. “More recently, we have seen very rapid escalation in that  part of the energy spectrum. Beginning on May 7, the cosmic ray hits have increased  five percent in a week and nine percent in a month.”

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