This is a big deal: as of last week, the Voyager 1 spacecraft — staffed in part by teams of scientists from Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Lab and the University of Maryland’s Space Physics Group — made it out of our solar system and into interstellar space. It is the first man-made object to ever do so.
APL scientist Tom Krimigis compared Voyager’s, uh, voyage beyond the solar system to that of Sputnik, the first satellite to go beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Back then, it was a huge deal that Sputnik had traveled around 600 miles above the planet. Voyager is about 11.3 billion miles away.
According to the Hopkins Hub, “new data indicate Voyager 1 has been traveling for about one year through the plasma, or ionized gas, present in the space between the stars and is in a transitional region immediately outside the solar bubble.” The solar bubble! A year of plasma travel! This is by far the coolest thing that’s happened this week.