Traveling at 334 million miles per year, the Voyager 1 Spacecraft continues to return vast amounts of important astronomical data to researchers back on Earth, and has done so since its initial launch on September 5, 1977. Most recently, Voyager 1 has been in the news because it is rapidly approaching the boundary of the solar system, and will shortly reach interstellar space. Using measurements of the solar wind sent back from the craft, scientists at the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University suggest that Voyager 1 has in fact already passed the terminal shock boundary that demarcates the transition from the solar system to interstellar space. Another piece of research conducted by a team of scholars at the University of Maryland suggest that Voyager 1 is nearing the termination shock boundary, but has yet to hit it. It is now estimated that Voyager 1 will reach the star next door to our own in about 40,000 years, though the spacecraft is thought to only have enough power to continue transmitting data until the year 2020. The first link will take visitors to a November 6, 2003 article in the Washington Post about the recent realization that the Voyager 1 will soon reach the end of the solar system. The second link leads to a joint press release released November 5, 2003 from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland about the progress of the spacecraft. The third link leads to a rather comprehensive and intriguing website designed by NASA to provide the web-browsing public with material about the spacecraft. The site includes details about the technical specifications of the Voyager and a number of amazing images taken during its 26-year journey. The fourth link leads to an 8-page fact sheet provided by NASA that offers a nice overview of the spacecraft's mission and its observations of the other planets in the solar system, including Jupiter and Uranus. The fifth link will take visitors to the USGS Astrogeology homepage of the Voyager, which again provides yet another perspective on the important work of this spacecraft. The last link lets visitors learn about the Golden Record that is onboard the Voyager 1. Designed to convey a bit of information about the planet Earth to any other sentient life forms that the Voyager may encounter, the Record contains greetings from various political figures, such as Kurt Waldheim (the former secretary of the United Nations) and different samples of nature sounds and pieces of music.


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