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The Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched September 5, 1977, is still operational today. It visited Jupiter and Saturn years ago and is now the farthest human-made object from Earth, traveling away from both the Earth and the Sun at a relatively faster speed than any other probe. At the current distance, signals from Voyager 1 take more than fourteen hours to reach the Earth.
I has now entered the heliosheath, the region between the solar system and interstellar space. If Voyager 1 is still functioning when it finally passes the heliopause, scientists will get their first direct measurements of the conditions in the interstellar medium. Voyager 1 is expected to continue to generate enough power to keep communicating with Earth until at least around the year 2020 (which will be 43 years after launch).
In January 1979 Voyager 1 approached Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. A number of important discoveries about Jupiter and its satellites were made, including the surprising existence of volcanic activity on the Jupiter moon Io. In November 1980 the spacecraft visited Saturn and detected complex structures in Saturn's rings, and studied the atmospheres of Saturn and its moon Titan.
Voyager 1 is not heading towards any particular star, but in about 40000 years it will be within 1.6 light years of the star AC+79 3888 in the Ophiuchus constellation.
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