Voyager 1 leaves the solar system


Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

CARBONDALE, Ill. - NASA's Voyager 1 has become the first man-made object to leave our solar system.

Scientists say it is a breakthrough, but what does it mean to the average person?

The probe took off into space 36 years ago, and the idea is that it can study outer space and communicate with NASA scientists back on Earth by sending radio signals.

To give you an idea of how far away this probe passed both Pluto and Neptune back in 1990!

Brice Russell is a physics graduate student at SIU.

He comes up to the campus observation deck a couple times per month to check out the view.

He says the news that Voyager 1 exited the solar system gave him a new perspective on what is really out there and how small we are in this great, big universe.

Even on a nice, clear night, using a powerful telescope, you would not be able to see the probe.

It does not emit its own light, it is very small and it is currently 12 billion miles away!

Voyager 1 set off on its journey just a few months before astronomy lecturer April Hendly was born...36 years ago.

Now that Voyager 1 is in interstellar space, space that is not in the sun's gravitational pull, scientists will be able to learn more about what is out there.

"We could look out with the telescopes and get information about the stars and stuff but we didn't have direct data from what was going on out there, we couldn't measure things like the magnetic field and plasma," said Hendly.

This advancement is a reminder that there is more to be discovered and that NASA's capabilities are only growing.

"There's no limits on what we should and shouldn't do," said Russell.

NASA scientists tell us that the Voyager 1 probe is about the size of a subcompact car.