Voyager 1 has now spent ten years in interstellar space, marking a unique milestone for humanity. As he enters “pristine” interstellar space, can he find alien life? To find.
No matter how many technologically advanced spacecraft are manufactured by NASA these days, its most enduring spacecraft came out in the 1970s. It was Voyager 1 which was launched in 1977 along with Voyager 2 to explore Jupiter and Saturn. But now, 45 years later, not only is Voyager 1 still going strong, it also marked a unique achievement by spending 10 years in interstellar space. For the ignorant, interstellar space is the region beyond the solar system where the Sun’s magnetic fields stop. This is where the space really begins and the possibilities open up. A very obvious question is whether Voyager 1 can find extraterrestrial life now. Keep reading to find out.
Voyager 1 hits a milestone, completing 10 years in interstellar space
It’s interesting to look back and realize that Voyager 1 was never meant to last this long. The spacecraft was only supposed to take a closer look at Jupiter and Saturn. As return to Earth would not be possible due to lack of fuel, the original plan was to shut down the machine and let it float to eternity.
“No one ever expected the Voyagers to leave the interstellar medium. They had a five-year lifespan that was extended for five years and then 10 years, but no one really thought they would leave the interstellar medium. solar system,” Merav Opher, an astronomer at Boston University, told Space.com.
To collect data from the spacecraft and not weigh down its batteries, NASA scientists turned off all systems except an instrument that measures magnetic fields which is turned on for a few days every few years. And it is by observing the fluctuations that researchers like Opher develop an understanding of the heliosphere. The heliosphere is a bubble-like structure, made up of the Sun’s magnetic fields, which surrounds the solar system.
So now that it’s been in interstellar space for 10 years and entered outer space, what’s next for NASA’s Voyager 1? According to Opher, finding extraterrestrial life isn’t out of the question, but it’s not a mission goal. It’s discovering the world outside our solar system and understanding what it’s all about. But being there has helped scientists know that the possibility of extraterrestrial life is very complex.
“If we try to find life on other planets, then the only habitable astrosphere we have in control is our own. It was Voyager that revealed its complexity,” Opher said.