NASA’s Voyager 1 is approaching the Edge of our Universe

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 17th, 2012

Week in Review

NASA launched Voyager 1 in 1977 when Jimmy Carter was president.  It’s been flying in space for some 35 years.  It’s still flying.  And it’s still communicating to us.  Even though it’s a long way from home (see Voyager 1 Spaceship to Break Out of Solar System, Into Outer Space by NILS KONGSHAUG posted 6/15/2012 on ABC News).

Fifty-five years after humans first escaped the bounds of Earth and launched a satellite into orbit, we are about to cross another frontier…

That frontier is the farthest reach of the solar winds, the particles that shoot from the sun at a million miles an hour, giving us the northern lights as they bend around Earth’s magnetic field.

At some distance from our sun the solar winds will be overwhelmed by the interstellar winds that blow among the stars.

That boundary, the very edge of the solar system, is called the “heliopause.” No spacecraft has ever reached it, and scientists don’t know exactly how far away it is. But last month the number of cosmic rays hitting Voyager 1 started to shoot up…

And in a mere 40,000 years, Voyager 1 will approach another star. Another sun.

It’s hard to imagine what 40,000 years is.  For us to look forward to that time would be like a Neanderthal looking forward to our time.  If another intelligent life on a planet orbiting that sun examines that spacecraft 40,000 years from now it may be like us looking at a curious Neanderthal relic we unearthed today.  Or perhaps something will enter our galaxy that has traveled 40,000 years to get here by a civilization long gone from this universe.

The universe is a big place.  We may not be alone in it.  But for all practical purposes we are.  For it would take incredible propulsion systems to accelerate us fast enough to get anywhere and back before we died on the trip.  Or we need advances in medical science that can extend the life expectancy of man to about 80,000 years.

Just food for thought the next time there’s talk about UFOs in our skies.

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