At the edge of the Solar System

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have been away from home for a very long time. Launched 36 years ago, the two space probes have been traveling–at times, 38,120 mph–towards the edge of our solar system. Currently it’s over 7 billion miles away from Earth. At Earth’s distance from the Sun, it takes about 8 minutes for sunlight to reach us. It takes almost 17 hours to reach Voyager 1.

For the last year, scientists have been anticipating Voyager’s departure from the outermost boundaries of the Solar System. However, there is still no indication that has happened. In fact, data transmitted from Voyager 1 has baffled Earth’s best physicists. Old models of the Solar System is literally being rewritten. All the science at this point is beyond me, but if you’re interested in the particulars NASA has a website that details all the current info on the Voyager mission.

With Voyager 1 being so far away, my initial question was how it was communicating with scientists on Earth and how effective and reliable is the data being sent back? The answer is apparently radio signals and really, really large antennas. It takes about 10 hours for signals from Voyager to come back to us and vice versa. When you think about the technology that was employed 36 years ago, it’s amazing that those tin cans are still floating in space and ticking.

For more reading sources:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/question431.htm

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/06/voyager-unexpected-region/