There's been some confusion in recent months over whether Voyager 1 has actually exited the Solar System. NASA scientists have reported multiple times that they've seen indications that the probe may be outside the heliosphere, only to roll back the fanfare with a deeper analysis of the data.
Now, NASA is letting everyone in on the agonizing wait with a new feature incorporated into its Eyes on the Solar System software. Eyes on the Solar System is an interactive, 3-D web app that uses up-to-date NASA mission data to depict the Solar System.
The new module allows users to watch the Voyager 1 probe as it hurtles toward interstellar space. Astronomers believe that Voyager 1 entered a "magnetic highway" at the edge of the Solar System late last year. The 'Highway" is a region where charged particles can pass both in and out of the heliosphere, the bubble of charged particles that surrounds the sun.
The app will speed up Voyager 1's journey to one day per second. Navigation data from the project is used to show the probe roll and maneuver through the Solar System.
NASA researchers are tracking the particles coming from inside the heliosphere and outside of it. They believe that a sustained increase in detected outside charged particles indicates the "magnetic highway" Voyager 1 currently occupies. Scientists are waiting for a magnetic field shift before confirming the probe has left the Solar System.
(Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)