In a breathtaking first, NASA craft exits the solar system

tags: NASA




PASADENA, Calif. — The spacecraft’s technology was laughable by today’s standards: it carried an 8-track tape recorder and computers with 240,000 times less memory than a low-end iPhone. When it left Earth 36 years ago, it was designed as a four-year mission to Saturn, and everything after that was gravy.

But Voyager I has become — unexpectedly — the Little Spacecraft That Could. On Thursday, scientists declared that it had become the first man-made object to exit the solar system, a breathtaking achievement that NASA could only fantasize about back when it was launched in 1977, the same year that “Star Wars” was released.

“I don’t know if it’s in the same league as landing on the moon, but it’s right up there — ‘Star Trek’ stuff, for sure,” said Donald A. Gurnett, a professor of physics at the University of Iowa and the co-author of a paper published Thursday in the journal Science about Voyager’s feat. “I mean, consider the distance. It’s hard even for scientists to comprehend.”...




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