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Voyager 1 Hangs On The Solar System’s “Heliocliff”

posted 22 Mar 2013, 06:54 by Mpelembe   [ updated 22 Mar 2013, 06:55 ]

USA (Next Media) -  Voyager 1, the U.S. spacecraft launched into space 35 years ago, is on the verge of breaking out of our solar system and into interstellar space, according to scientists. Members of the Voyager 1 project team describe the probe as being on the edge of a “heliocliff”. This region of the heliosphere, the magnetic “bubble” that encapsulates the solar system, exhibits very weak influence from the sun and very high levels of cosmic rays, NASA says. These rays, which are high-energy particles such a protons and Helium nuclei, come from interstellar space beyond the heliosphere.

Voyager 1 has registered higher and higher levels of cosmic rays, with a marked increase in the last few months. Scientists believe the probe will have made it through into interstellar space when it starts to detect a change in the direction of magnetic field lines. The project team is not certain when this will happen, nor do they know what to expect when Voyager 1 finally does leave the solar system.

SOURCES: New York TimesDaily Mail, NASA