Putting Our Solar System Into Perspective
A new artists impression which maps out our solar system has put into perspective just how far NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has travelled. The simple diagram parses out our solar system based on Astronomical Units (AU). One Astronomical Unit represents the distance from the Sun to Earth, which in normal distances is around 93 million miles.
As the diagram shows, Saturn is approximately 10 AUs away, which is pretty darn far. Consider then, that NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft is estimated to currently lie around 125 AU's away. That's a staggering feat for a spacecraft that was built and launched in the late 1970's.
So what's next for Voyager 1? Well according to this diagram, now it is officially in interstellar space, Voyager 1's next target is the fable Oort cloud. The Oort cloud is a massive spherical cloud thought to be the source of the numerous comets that buzz through our solar system. Nobody has quite proven that this cloud exists, nor have the agreed upon just how big it might be, but maybe one day Voyager 1 can help us out with that.
Beyond the Oort cloud lies the closest star to our sun, Alpha Centauri. But don't hold your breath on that one...it's theorized that it would take Voyager 1 over 300 years just to reach the edge of the Oort cloud, so Alpha Centauri is still a long way away!