Voyager-1 was launched in 1977 to study Jupiter, but later the mission was extended to explore the outermost limits of the solar system. In 2003, there were reports that the spacecraft has left the solar system. Then in 2010, scientists said it was getting ready to go beyond the solar system. In 2012, NASA said that it had definitely entered the interstellar space. Voyager had achieved something that was unimaginable. It was the first man-made object to move beyond the solar system and breach the interstellar space.
Voyager-1 might still be within the heliosphere
Unfortunately, these claims could have been the results of scientific miscalculations, and the spacecraft might still be within the solar system. About two years after the historic announcement, some scientists believe that Voyager-1 is still within the heliosphere, and is yet to reach the interstellar space. Heliosphere is the region dominated by the Sun and charged particles of its wind. It’s this region where charged particles stream outward before slamming into the interstellar space’s particle clouds to form a shock wave called heliopause.
To put an end to all doubts, two scientists who have worked on the Voyager team have developed a test that will prove once and for all whether the spacecraft has left the solar system. These scientists, George Gloeckler and Len Fisk of the University of Michigan, predict that the Voyager-1 will cross the current sheet in the next two years. Current sheet is a region within the heliosphere where the polarity of our Sun’s magnetic field changes from positive to negative. Gloeckler and Fisk believe that the probe will detect this reversal in the magnetic field, showing the world that Voyager-1 is still within the heliosphere.
Will Voyager-1 detect the reversal in the magnetic field?
However, if Voyager-1 doesn’t detect the reversal in the magnetic field within two years as expected, it would confirm that the spacecraft has already entered the interstellar space. Gloeckler has worked on the Voyager project since 1972, when it was still in the developmental stage. Voyager-1 has observed some other signs, such as cosmic rays, in the past that indicate that it might have cross into the interstellar space. But it never saw a change in the magnetic field as many scientists were expecting.
On August 25, 2012, Voyager-1 was 11.3 billion miles away from the Sun.