NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, first launched in 1977 and currently the man-made object furthest from the Earth, recently reached the furthest edges of our solar system, an area that scientists believe is the final barrier the craft needs to pass through before reaching interstellar space. According to NASA's report, Voyager 1 reached the "magnetic highway" region for the first time in July of this year and has solidly been in that region since re-entering in late August. The area is known as a "magnetic highway" due to the Sun's magnetic field lines lining up interstellar magnetic field lines in the area where Voyager 1 is currently located. Once Voyager 1 leaves the solar system, scientists predict that the direction of the magnetic field lines will change, making it clear when we've finally sent a man-made object into interstellar space.
"Although Voyager 1 still is inside the sun's environment, we now can taste what it's like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway," said Edward Stone, a Voyager project scientist from the California Institute of Technology "We believe this is the last leg of our journey to interstellar space." As for when Voyager 1 might make it out of the solar system, Stone believes it should break free within the next "couple" years. Of course, it's been just about a year since NASA said Voyager 1 had reached "cosmic purgatory" at the end of the solar system, so it's worth remembering that it's still rather unclear when the craft will break free.