The Voyager 1 spacecraft is a 722 kilogram (1,592 lb) space probe launched by NASA in 1977, to study the outer Solar System and interstellar medium. But now the spacecraft is entering into new area where things are changing pretty quickly.
Operating for 34 years, 9 months and 18 days as of today (23 June 2012) Voyager I will enter the stars behold and where there is no sun’s magnetic field, the spacecraft receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network.
Voyager 1 is now in the heliosheath, which is the outermost layer of the heliosphere. On 15 June 2012, NASA scientists reported that Voyager 1 may be very close to entering interstellar space and becoming the first human-made object to leave the Solar System.
“We are approaching the solar system’s final frontier,things are changing with we are very much excited!”
reported one of the scientist.
Being a part of the Voyager program with its sister craft Voyager 2, the spacecraft is in extended mission, tasked with locating and studying the boundaries of the Solar System, including the Kuiper belt, the heliosphere and interstellar space. The primary mission ended November 20, 1980, after encountering the Jovian system in 1979 and the Saturnian system in 1980. It was the first probe to provide detailed images of the two largest planets and their moons.
The rate of cosmic rays hitting the craft has dramatically increased as it is moving out of the solar system’s magnetic sheath.Cosmic rays are High Energy Particles such as Protons and Helium Nuclei which are accelerated to near light speed !
The Helio-sheath protects us from these rays, deflecting and destroying many of the particles before they even reach the inner planets.From January 2009 to February 2012 there has been 25% increase in the hitting of cosmic rays!
For Your Information : Voyager is now 18 billion kilometers away from the earth!