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The spacecraft is close to leaving the Solar System and into the uncharted territory of the Milky Way after more than three decades in space.

Voyager 1 was launched with its twin, Voyager 2, by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) in 1977.

Voyager 1 is travelling at just under 11 miles per second and sending information from nearly 11 billion miles away from the sun.

It is about to become the first man-made object to leave the Solar System, although Nasa expects it to take between several months and years before it completely enters interstellar space. Voyager 2 will follow later.

Ed Stone, the Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said: "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."

The primary mission for the spacecrafts was the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn.

After uncovering important findings the mission was extended, with the radio contact with mission control lasting longer than had been expected.

Rob Decker, a Voyager Low-Energy Charged Particle Instrument co-investigator from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, said: "We've been using the flow of energetic charged particles at Voyager 1 as a kind of wind sock to estimate the solar wind velocity. We've found that the wind speeds are low in this region and gust erratically. For the first time, the wind even blows back at us. We are evidently traveling in completely new territory. Scientists had suggested previously that there might be a stagnation layer, but we weren't sure it existed until now."

Voyager 1 and 2 both hold a a gold-coated copper phonograph record.

The record contains over 100 photographs of earth, a selection of greetings from languages around the world and a variety of sounds from the Earth.

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan wrote in an introduction to a CD version of the record that "billion years from now, when everything on Earth we've ever made has crumbled into dust, when the continents have changed beyond recognition and our species is unimaginably altered or extinct, the Voyager record will speak for us."

The Voyagers have enough power and fuel to operate until at least 2020.

It is predicted by that point that Voyager 1 will be 12.4 billion miles from the Sun, whilst Voyager 2 will be 10.5 billion miles away.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/8940350/Nasas-Voyager-1-in-cosmic-purgatory-on-verge-of-entering-Milky-Way.html

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