NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft nearly 12 billion miles from Earth is still phoning home from interstellar space, and a new NASA photo captures that radio signal as pale blue speck in a cosmic ocean.
The space agency unveiled the amazing image Voyager 1's radio signal glow as seen by an array of radio telescopes on Earth earliier this week to celebrate Voyager 1's arrival in its new interstellar frontier.
Researchers confirmed Thursday (Sept. 12) that Voyager 1 is officially in interstellar space. The spacecraft, which launched in 1977, became the first ever human-made object to leave our cosmic neighborhood and enter the space between stars. It likely did so on or around Aug. 25, 2012. [Voyager 1 in Interstellar Space: Complete Coverage]
Scientists can't "see" our first interstellar ambassador in the visible spectrum, but they can detect Voyager 1's signal in radio light.
The 36-year-old spacecraft's communications technology is lacking by today's standards. A smartphone has thousands of times more memory than Voyager 1 and the space probe's main transmitter radiates just 22 watts, about the same amount of power as a typical ham radio or a refrigerator light bulb, NASA said. But compared to many natural objects probed by radio telescopes, Voyager 1's signal is actually quite bright. ...more