Thursday, September 12, 2013

Where No One Has Gone Before

Click the arrow to watch “Traveller's Tales” on YouTube. Video source:

NASA confirmed today that Voyager 1 has ventured into interstellar space.

New and unexpected data indicate Voyager 1 has been traveling for about one year through plasma, or ionized gas, present in the space between stars. Voyager is in a transitional region immediately outside the solar bubble, where some effects from our sun are still evident. A report on the analysis of this new data, an effort led by Don Gurnett and the plasma wave science team at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, is published in Thursday's edition of the journal Science.

"Now that we have new, key data, we believe this is mankind's historic leap into interstellar space," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "The Voyager team needed time to analyze those observations and make sense of them. But we can now answer the question we've all been asking — 'Are we there yet?' Yes, we are."

During today's news conference (below), a replica of the “Golden Record” was displayed. The Golden Record was a project to send an interstellar message to a sentient alien species. Astrophysicist Carl Sagan headed the committee that selected the record's content.

Carl passed away in 1996, but his Cosmos series helped draw public attention to the Voyager program.

I found the above tribute video on YouTube, produced by Milky Way Musings. It seems perfect for you to enjoy on this historic day.

Click the arrow to watch the NASA Voyager news conference.

UPDATE September 12, 2013 6:00 PM EDT — I neglected to mention that the first human spacecraft to enter interstellar space launched from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on September 5, 1977. The launch vehicle was a Titan IIIE.

UPDATE September 12, 2013 7:00 PM EDT — Here's an NBC Nightly News video report from September 5, 1977 showing the launch of Voyager 1 from LC-41.

Click the arrow to watch the NBC News report. You may be subjected to an ad first.

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