NASA's Voyager Now First Human-Made Object to Leave the Solar System

Friday, September 13, 2013

Official NASA Image: This artist's concept depicts NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft entering interstellar space, or the space between stars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Elvis has finally left the building.

In 1977, a little spacecraft named Voyager 1 was launched, leaving our world for a long journey. 

Voyager is NASA's little Elvis—and now it has finally left the Solar System. In doing so, the spacecraft has become the first human-made object to reach interstellar space.

The 36-year-old probe is now about 12 billion miles from our sun.

While that would seem impressive in itself, it turns out that Voyager 1 is not only doing this with technology that is decades old, but a computing system that is slower and less complex than whatever you're using to read this page.

Voyager 1's computers can process about 8,000 instructions per second—an average smartphone handles upwards of 14 billion each second.

Joining The Takeaway to explore the journey of Voyager 1 since it left Earth almost four decades ago is Kelly Beatty, senior contributing editor of Sky and Telescope Magazine.

Check out this short video from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to learn how the team discovered the craft had reached the space between the stars.

 

Guests:

Kelly Beatty

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

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