This is cool stuff: Nasa’s Voyager 1 in ‘cosmic purgatory’ on verge of entering Milky Way.

The spacecraft is close to leaving the Solar System and into the uncharted territory of the Milky Way after more than three decades in space.

Voyager 1 was launched with its twin, Voyager 2, by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) in 1977.

Voyager 1 is travelling at just under 11 miles per second and sending information from nearly 11 billion miles away from the sun.

It is about to become the first man-made object to leave the Solar System, although Nasa expects it to take between several months and years before it completely enters interstellar space. Voyager 2 will follow later.

Ed Stone, the Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said: “Voyager tells us now that we’re in a stagnation region in the outermost layer of the bubble around our solar system. Voyager is showing that what is outside is pushing back.

“We shouldn’t have long to wait to find out what the space between stars is really like.”

Not to be pedantic, but the Sun and the Solar System are every bit a part of the Milky Way as any other system or the bits in between, but I know what they’re getting at – something akin to the difference between in-shore and blue water navigation.  Also, I’m not sure the author understands what “Purgatory” actually is.  (And if Deep Space is “Heaven”, does that make Earth…….?)

At any rate, pausing to consider the vast distances involved in this biznay always gives me a pleasant sense of vertigo.

I’m also reminded of the Medieval idea of the Heavens not being a vast, empty void, but instead being filled with, well, celestial matter of various sorts.  The best “modern” description of this idea that I know about comes in C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy, especially the first one, Out of the Silent Planet.

(*Not to spoil the joke, but for the benefit of those, like the Mothe, who have no reason to know, this is a reference to the awful 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the plot of which hinges on what happens in the 23rd Century when Voyager comes back.)

UPDATE:  Ha! Ol’ Robbo scoops the Puppy Blender!  (Either that or else he’s sneaking sips out of the decanter without telling me.)