Last days of a Voyager …
Originally posted by Earth Observatory:
Voyager 1 spacecraft launched September 5, 1977. Thirty-five years later, at 21:00 Universal Time on September 4, 2012, Voyager 1 was 11.31 billion miles from home. Signals to it take 33 hours and 44 minutes.
Crescent-shaped Earth and Moon was captured on 18 September 1977, Voyager was 7.25 million miles from Earth, directly above Mount Everest (on the night side of the planet at 25 degrees north latitude):
“The Pale Blue Dot” image was acquired on February 14, 1990, 4 billion miles from Earth and 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane:
The fuzzy light is scattered sunlight because Earth was very close to the Sun (from the perspective of Voyager). The image was part of a series of 60 images collected to make the first-ever mosaic portrait of our solar system.
Voyager 1 has been cruising toward the edge of the solar system, past the termination shock and into the heliosheath; the outer edge of influence for solar wind plasma and energy from our Sun.
The probe is now in the “doldrums” found in tropical seas on Earth. The solar wind has calmed, the magnetic field has piled up due to pressure from outside the solar system and high-energy particles appear to be leaking out into interstellar space.
The Voyager science team expects the spacecraft itself to pass out into that space sometime in the next year or so.
“Voyager tells us now that we're in a stagnation region in the outermost layer of the bubble around our solar system,”
“Voyager is showing that what is outside is pushing back. We shouldn't have long to wait to find out what the space between stars is really like.”