voyager-probe-1-magnetic-highwaySpace is unfathomably, insanely, horrifically massive. It doesn’t end, it just goes. Forever. How do we know? NASA’s Voyager 1 probe, which lifted off from Earth back in 1977, is currently 11 billion miles away from where you and I sit, and counting. 11 billion miles. It’s a wonder we can even communicate with the thing; a signal from the probe to Earth takes 17 hours.

The probe has traveled so far that NASA believes its reached the “magnetic highway” region — a barrier that precedes interstellar space. “Scientists refer to this as a magnetic highway for charged particles because our sun’s magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines,” NASA explained.

It’s interesting to read how scientists even know where the probe is in space, let alone how far. Wading through all the complex space jargon is taxing, but it basically comes down to charged particles and magnetic field lines, or magnetic highways. The probe is in a stable environment now, but that’s set to change in a few months to a few years, when it breaks through the sun’s field of influence.

[via NASA]