Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Uncharted territory

There isn't much of it anymore, at least on Earth. Although we continue to discover new things (like arsenic bacteria!), mankind's boots have pretty much stepped everywhere they can.

Off the planet, though, it's a whole different story. And one of the first space probes is on the verge of taking the biggest step in the history of the species. It's leaving our neighborhood--the Solar System--for good.

Voyager 1, the most distant spacecraft from Earth, has reached a new milestone in its quest to leave the Solar System.

Now 17.4bn km (10.8bn miles) from home, the veteran probe has detected a distinct change in the flow of particles that surround it.

These particles, which emanate from the Sun, are no longer travelling outwards but are moving sideways.

It means Voyager must be very close to making the jump to interstellar space - the space between the stars.

On a separate note, 33 years and it can still send a strong data signal more than 10 billion miles? I want me some of those batteries.

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