Voyager 1 Enters Magnetic Highway, AKA the Last Step to Interstellar Space
NASA scientists say Voyager 1 could enter interstellar space anywhere from months to a couple of years from now
NASA's Voyager 1 is traveling through the last leg of its journey before entering interstellar space.
Voyager 1, which was launched into space in 1977 to eventually explore interstellar space and become the most distant human-made object, has reached a region that NASA scientists are calling a magnetic highway. This highway consists of charged particles where the sun's magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines.
This area is still considered part of our heliosphere, which is a bubble of charged particles around the sun, because the direction of the magnetic field lines has not changed. The direction of these lines will change when Voyager 1 enters interstellar space, and scientists believe the magnetic highway is the last stretch before finally making it to interstellar space.
"Although Voyager 1 still is inside the sun's environment, we now can taste what it's like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway," said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "We believe this is the last leg of our journey to interstellar space. Our best guess is it's likely just a few months to a couple years away. The new region isn't what we expected, but we've come to expect the unexpected from Voyager."
What will our little 'messenger of peace' find out there, in the vastness of space between star systems? For good or ill, Voyager treks on in search of other worlds, other solar systems.
What might it find?
I am reminded of "Star Trek - The Movie", where a massive ship approaches Earth, seeking it's creator. If it doesn't find "the creator", "V'ger" will destroy planet Earth.
The crew of the Enterprise finally deduce that V'ger is actually "Voyager 6". While in deep interstellar space, Voyager 6 is found by a superior race of (probably) cybernetic aliens, who repair the tiny craft, place it at the core of a massive ship, pat it's little metal bottom and send it home to daddy. The mission: Join with the creator, or destroy.
Lucky for us, there never was a Voyager 6. NASA only sent two Voyagers into space.
The thought still remains. Let's just hope we never have to live out that scenario with V-1, or V-2. The real Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock might not be so clever, as in the movies.
NASA's Voyager Program