Scientists still don't know for sure whether Voyager 1, a spacecraft launched in 1977 (!) with an insterstellar mission to study Jupiter's atmosphere and the moons of Saturn among other tasks, is beyond the limits of the solar system. If this is true, it would be the first time that a man-made machine has travelled out of the limits of our Solar System and into the outer space.
Last week some experts published a study in Astrophysical Journal, a scientific magazine, claiming that Voyager 1 was out of our system. NASA experts, however, say that it has yet to pass beyond the reach of our sun's radiation.
Conceived of to take advantage of a rare alignment of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune that occurs once every 175 years, NASA's original programme was designed to travel in the solar system using the gravity of one planet to jump to the next. The complete mission consists of two probes, Voyager 1 and 2, that used satellites designed to last just five years. Yet they sail on, at 55,000 km/h, using only essential instruments to ration power from their plutonium batteries that are expected to last until around 2020.
Check these interesting links:
- NASA's Voyager Mission website
- Where are the Voyagers?
[Real-time counters in kilometres (Km) and astronomical units (AU) that show the distance of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 from Earth]
*beyond: (prep.) más allá de.
*claim: (v) asegurar, afirmar.
*reach: (n) alcance.
*take advantage of: (v) aprovecharse de.
*alignment: (n) alineación.
*probe: (n) sonda.
*last: (v) durar.