Ahead of schedule: Voyager 1 could hurtle past the edge of our solar system and into interstellar space ‘at any time’

Nasa’s Voyager 1 spacecraft could crash through the final frontier as it exits our solar system at any time and much earlier than previously thought, scientists have said.

The unmanned probe has been hurtling towards the system’s boundary – known as the heliopause – since 2004.

It was initially thought that 2014 would see the craft exit our solar system and enter interstellar space.

But surprised scientists now believe the crossover could happen ‘any time soon’.

‘There is one time we are going to cross that frontier, and this is the first sign it is upon us,’ said Tom Krimigis, prinicipal investigator for Voyager’s low-energy charged particle instrument and Cassini’s magnetospheric imaging instrument, in the journal Nature.

He said new data from Voyager’s low-energy charged particle instrument, which was first recorded in December 2010, indicated the outward speed of the charged particles streaming from the sun had slowed down to zero.

The stagnation of the solar wind had continued through at least February 2011, marking a thick, previously unpredicted ‘transition zone’ at the edge of the solar system.

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