In a major milestone, NASA has reported that the Voyager I spacecraft may be close to becoming the first human creation ever to cross the invisible boundary separating our solar system from interstellar space.
A surge of new data shows that the probe has been encountering a huge uptick in galactic cosmic rays — a key factor that would signify that the Voyager has, indeed, left the building.
To be absolutely sure, scientists are relying on a couple of other key criteria. In addition to the uptick of certain particles, the presence of another particle would have to decrease completely. And while that number is not at zero, there has been a slow decline, which physicists expect to change dramatically when the spacecraft crosses the barrier.
The magnetic field surrounding the spacecraft would also completely change, from east-west to north-south. The problem is that no one is sure if there will be a definitive moment when the Voyager crosses the threshold.
“The laws of physics say that someday Voyager will become the first human-made object to enter interstellar space, but we still do not know exactly when that someday will be,” said Ed Stone, a physicist and professor at the California Institute of Technology on the project.
Whenever Voyager crosses that threshold, it would certainly go down as a pivotal moment in space history, akin to when Sputnik became the first artificial satellite to be launched into Earth’s orbit in 1956.
To read more about this story at Time, CLICK HERE.