NASA Voyager 2 Interstellar Space

A human-made object has reached the space between the stars for the second time only in history. NASA’s Voyager 2 has exited the heliosphere – the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun. Its twin, Voyager 1, crossed this boundary in 2012, but Voyager 2 has a working instrument that will provide first-of-its-kind observations of the nature of this gateway into interstellar space, which means its slightly more than 11 billion miles from Earth. Mission operators still can communicate with Voyager 2 as it enters this new phase of its journey, but the information it transmits – moving at the speed of light – takes about 16.5 hours to travel back to Earth – light traveling from the Sun takes eight minutes to reach our planet. Read more for another video and additional information.



The two Voyagers together will provide a detailed glimpse of how our heliosphere interacts with the constant interstellar wind flowing from beyond, complementing data from NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), a mission that is remotely sensing that boundary. The space agency is also preparing an additional mission, Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP), that is to launch in 2024.

NASA Voyager 2 Interstellar Space

“Working on Voyager makes me feel like an explorer, because everything we’re seeing is new. Even though Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause in 2012, it did so at a different place and a different time, and without the PLS data. So we’re still seeing things that no one has seen before,” said John Richardson, principal investigator for the PLS instrument and a principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.