Voyager 1, which was one of two twin spacecraft launched in the 1970s to explore the solar system, has officially entered interstellar space. Now 12 billion miles from Earth, the spacecraft, which is still transmitting data to Earth, has evidently passed outside the influence of the Sun's heliosphere, or magnetic field, according to project scientists at NASA. Since the on-board plasma detector had stopped working back in 1980, scientists were forced to rely on indirect evidence, such as a shift in the magnetic field that was detected in August of last year, and a jump in the number of cosmic rays, which are present everywhere but are blocked by the Sun's heliosphere, in a similar fashion to the way the Earth's magnetic field helps protect life on it's surface from cosmic bombardment. Using these clues, researchers have determined that Voyager 1 entered interstellar space around Aug. 25, 2012. In May 2012, scientists detected a drop in charged particles and a jump in cosmic rays. Those changes accelerated around July 28, 2012, but the levels soon returned to normal. However, by Aug. 25 of last year, all the particles originating inside the heliosphere dropped dramatically and cosmic ray levels skyrocketed — and the levels stayed that way. This led NASA scientists, led by project scientist Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology, to announce last week that Voyager had indeed entered interstellar space sometime around the middle of last year.
But what are the chances that Voyager will someday find other intelligent life in its' travels? To be honest, they aren't very good, because Voyager was never designed to look for intelligent life. Also, it will be at least 35,000 years before it can even get close to another star like our Sun, and by that time it will have probably lost all power, and we will probably have lost all interest. For all we know, we may have ourselves departed our Earth looking for another world to live on, and we may well pass Voyager on our outward voyage, in our ships traveling close to the speed of light.
Another interesting question we may speculate upon is what will happen if Voyager does indeed encounter a civilization far more technologically advanced than we are. This was the premise of an episode of the original Star Trek series was well as the first Star Trek movie. Would it somehow be transformed into a super-powerful weapon, a 'V-Ger', that would come back here and try to destroy us? This also, in my opinion is also very unlikely but not totally impossible, so maybe we shouldn't have included that map of our solar system showing where we are. In the end, if intelligent beings from other worlds do someday happen to find Voyager, they will probably just scratch their heads (presuming they have heads) and wonder what it is, just as we wonder who erected the statues on Easter Island, or like the bushmen in the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy worshipped a Coke bottle, worship it as a deity.