September 12, 2013
The Moment actually came a year ago — on or about August 25, 2012, to be more precise. That’s when Voyager project scientists now agree that the Voyager 1 spacecraft crossed into the region where interstellar space begins, and where particles from our sun no longer dominate.
It’s been a long, strange trip — even to get to this announcement. Over the past year, several scientific papers have been published claiming that Voyager had crossed the historic boundary, only to have other researchers, including, notably, Voyager project scientist Ed Stone of Caltech, say not so fast. Today, though, they all seemed to agree: Voyager is now among the stars.
You can find the details on NASA’s Voyager site, or read the technical report in Science magazine by Don Gurnett of the University of Iowa and other Voyager investigators that appears to have closed the argument for good.
At a NASA press conference today, Gurnett played these historic first sounds from interstellar space:
Suzy Dodd, NASA’s project manager for Voyager, also showed two photos of the Voyager science team — one from the 1970s and one taken recently — that showed, in dramatically human terms, just how very long it took to escape our solar system.