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Voyager 1 Ventures Out of Solar System
September 15, 2013

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Scientists say that Voyager 1, an interstellar probe launched in 1977 to discover more about the planets in the night sky, has left the solar system.

The NASA scientists have defined the solar system as the heliosphere, a magnetic boundary that separates the Sun's influence from the rest of the Milky Way galaxy. Evidence from the probe, which is traveling at 38,000 miles per hour and still tweeting back updates 36 years later, is proof, say the scientists, who estimate that Voyager left the solar system in late August of 2012. Wanting to be sure, the scientists delayed their announcement.

Voyager 1 was launched in 1977, along with Voyager 2. Together, the two spacecraft gathered data and images from the other planets in the solar system, in the process rewriting what many scientists knew about the planets and their surroundings. One key finding of Voyager 1 was that Jupiter had rings. The sheer number of photos that came back from both Voyager probes staggered many scientists. The photos and data illuminated what many scientists knew or suspected about Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus.

Another key component of the Voyager spacecraft was a "golden record," a 12-inch gold-plated record-equivalent filled with sounds and images from planet Earth. The sounds included spoken words in most of the world's languages, music by Mozart and other famous musicians, and sounds of whales.

Voyager 2 is slotted to leave the solar system in three to four years.

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