On Sept. 5, 1977, NASA launched a space probe named Voyager 1 into the cosmos. Nearly 45 years later, much to the delighted astonishment of astronomers throughout the world, it is still humming along as it travels far past Pluto.
In fact, Voyager 1 has traveled so far that it has left the bounds of our solar system — and now it is giving off strange readings that scientists are struggling to understand.
The mystery likely has something to do with the fact that Voyager 1 is the farthest artificial object in space. At a distance of 14.5 billion miles away from Earth, Voyager 1 passed through the heliopause in 2012. The heliopause is the barrier separating the Sun’s solar winds from the interstellar medium, or all of the matter and radiation that exist in the space in-between various solar systems in the galaxy. This means that Voyager 1 is literally in the interstellar void of the Milky Way.
“The interstellar explorer is operating normally, receiving and executing commands from Earth, along with gathering and returning science data,” NASA explained on its website. “But readouts from the probe’s attitude articulation and control system (AACS) don’t reflect what’s actually happening onboard.”