Our planet being doomed, we need a replacement, and fast. A suitable candidate is located, complete with water, oxygen, and adequate parking facilities. As new homes go, it's not so distant--eighty-six years away, as the spaceship flies. The ship carries thirty teen-agers. Overseen by a single adult, named Richard (Colin Farrell), they must go forth and multiply on the mission, living and dying on board; it is their grandchildren who will arrive at the promised land and begin the long, complex, and time-honored process of messing it up.
Voyager 1 enters interstellar space in an illustration. The NASA spacecraft officially crossed into the space between the stars in 2012. NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft have been traveling the interstellar road for more than 40 years, sweeping past the giant planets of the outer solar system before heading to the very fringes of our sun's domain. Now, one probe has achieved a milestone in exploration: On December 10, NASA announced that Voyager 2 has entered interstellar space, six years after Voyager 1 first crossed the threshold. The twins are the only two spacecraft ever to venture so far from home.
Voyager 1 enters interstellar space in an illustration. The NASA spacecraft officially crossed into the space between the stars in 2012. NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft have been traveling the interstellar road for 40 years, sweeping past the giant planets of the outer solar system before heading to the very fringes of our sun's domain. But even at more than 10 billion miles from the sun, the Voyagers' story is just beginning. On their current paths, both probes will still be heading outward across the galaxy eons after they escape the gravitational tug of the sun, and perhaps long after our star dies in four or five billion years.
Roughly a decade from now, when they run out of electrical power, the two Voyager spacecraft -- Voyager I and Voyager II -- will fall silent and stop beaming back data to Earth. Until this happens, however, their journey through interstellar space will continue to provide an invaluable opportunity for astronomers to understand the vast space around our solar system. As the two spacecraft race through the virgin territory -- boldly going where no man has gone before, and probably won't, in the foreseeable future -- NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is charting their path, providing a road map of the probes' future trajectories and giving a broader context to what they are observing in their vicinity. "This is a great opportunity to compare data from in situ measurements of the space environment by the Voyager spacecraft and telescopic measurements by Hubble," astronomer Seth Redfield from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, who recently presented a preliminary analysis of Hubble's observations, said in a statement Friday. Astronomers hope that Hubble's observations will help them understand the physical properties of the Local Interstellar Medium -- a vast bubble that surrounds the solar system.