NASA announced today that its Voyager 1 space craft has left the Solar System and is floating through interstellar space, riding the waves of interstellar plasma. “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.” NASA said. It entered interstellar space in August of last year; it just took a while to do the science to confirm it.
The spacecraft, which was launched 36 years ago in September, 1977, is almost as old as modern space exploration itself and has “bridged generations of scientists,” said Gary Zank, head of the Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.
“It’s a completely new environment, it’s truly alien… and what Voyager is going to discover? It truly beggars the imagination,” Zank said.
Each Voyager has a gold record with music, greetings and images from Earth – essentially traveling with a time capsule. But the spacecraft has also been able to record sounds of its own from interstellar space. Here’s what that sounds like: