Some day it’s entirely possible that the human race will be wiped out. Maybe we’ll do it ourselves, maybe we’ll be taken out by a rogue asteroid, or maybe we’ll survive until the sun turns into a red giant and burns away the Earth’s crust. Maybe we’ll make it out of the solar system in time to colonize other planets before that happens, but even if we don’t, somewhere out there in the universe at least something will survive as a signpost to say “hey we were here”.
Voyager 1, the space probe originally launched by NASA back in 1977, has escaped the solar system. It’s the first man made object ever to leave our solar system, the first tangible evidence, to any creature which might be out there in the universe, that we are here and we exist. I can’t think of anything bigger or more important.
It’s taken 35-years but The Atlantic says that over the last few weeks Voyager 1 has been leaving our solar system’s heliosphere, that’s the last part of what is officially considered our solar system, before it enters uncharted and unknown deep space. The heliosphere is a bubble of charged particles surrounding our solar system and, since the Voyager was built to last, it’s been reporting back on what it finds there via radio. It’s detecting the heliosphere’s energy particles around it and beginning to detect increased heat, as it boldly goes where humanity has never been before.