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Voyager on outskirts of the solar system
Posted: Tue, Dec 4, 2012, 5:42 AM ET (1042 GMT)
Voyager illustration (NASA/JPL) NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has yet to exit the solar system but has instead a previously unknown zone near its boundary, project scientists said Monday. The spacecraft, launched in 1977 and now about 18 billion kilometers from the Sun, has been nearing the heliopause, the boundary between the Sun's magnetic field and interstellar space. Instruments on the spacecraft have detected particles form interstellar space, but the magnetic field lines have not changed direction. Scientists believe that the spacecraft has entered a region they call the "magnetic highway" near the heliopause where magnetic field lines from the Sun connect with those from interstellar space, allowing for the transfer of particles observed by Voyager. Mission scientists speculate that Voyager 1 could finally pass the heliopause within the next couple of years, and perhaps within several months.
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