Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nasa's Voyager 1 in 'cosmic purgatory' on verge of entering Milky Way

Nasa's Voyager 1 has entered a new region of space between the Solar System and interstellar space in what Nasa has described as a 'cosmic purgatory'.

The spacecraft is close to leaving the Solar System and into the uncharted territory of the Milky Way after more than three decades in space.

Voyager 1 was launched with its twin, Voyager 2, by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) in 1977.

Voyager 1 is travelling at just under 11 miles per second and sending information from nearly 11 billion miles away from the sun.

It is about to become the first man-made object to leave the Solar System, although Nasa expects it to take between several months and years before it completely enters interstellar space. Voyager 2 will follow later.

Ed Stone, the Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said: "Voyager tells us now that we're in a stagnation region in the outermost layer of the bubble around our solar system. Voyager is showing that what is outside is pushing back. more