The Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched from Earth in 1977, will be the first man-made object to leave the solar system within the next year or two, scientists from NASA report.
Pictured: This artist's rendering released Tuesday shows Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 at the edge of the solar system.
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"We are approaching the solar system's frontier," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at CalTech in Pasadena, Calif.
The spacecraft is billions of miles beyond the orbits of the planets in our solar system, but it is still within the system, continuing to detect solar winds, or electrically charged gases ejected from our sun.
Based on new data from the craft, NASA announced last week that Voyager 1 was nearing the "heliopause," which scientists believe is the border between our solar system and interstellar space, says NASA research scientist Eric Christian in Greenbelt, Md.
The heliopause is the point where solar winds stop and magnetic fields shift from the solar system to that of deep space.
"The latest data indicate that we are clearly in a new region where things are changing more quickly," Stone says.
Voyager 1 and its identical sister ship, Voyager 2, also launched in 1977, between them explored all of the solar system's outer planets of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in the 1980s.
SOURCE: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY