Remember Voyager 1? Launched in 1977 to explore Jupiter and Saturn and completing her mission back in 1980, she’s still truckin’ to the edges of the solar system and sending back valuable data. She is the little spacecraft that could.
NASA recently announced that Voyager 1 could be about to leave the outer limits of our solar system. As Phil Plait points out, that would make humans an interstellar species. Wowzers! Now, this could still take a few years, but we are enticingly close.
Just how far from Earth is Voyager 1? An astounding kilometers away! At that distance, it takes a signal from Voyager 1 almost 18 hours to reach Earth.
Don’t get your hopes up on Voyager 1 travelling to another star, though. The closest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.2 light years away and it would take Voyager 17,565 years to travel just one light year at its present speed. And Voyager isn’t heading that direction.
It’s a great big universe and we’re all really puny.