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Voyager Space Probe: Nasa Releases Web Tracker For Solar System Boundary

25/04/2013 14:16 BST | Updated 25/06/2013 10:12 BST

Earlier this year the world's press - including the Huffington Post - was hugely excited by the news that the Voyager 1 space craft had left the solar system, becoming the first man-made object to escape the direct influence of the Sun.

Unfortunately, it hadn't. Well, not quite.

While a research paper claimed that the craft had indeed left the heliosphere, Nasa was not convinced. It countered that while the craft was certainly within the 'magnetic highway' that borders the heliosphere and inter-stellar space, the boundary had not quite been crossed.

voyager space

Above: artist's impression of Voyager on its path out of the Solar System

In response to the reports, Nasa said that while the amount of 'inside' particles (mainly protons) detected by the craft had reduced and been overtaken by the number of 'outside' particles detected, the direction of the magnetic wind had not reversed - a key indicator that Voyager is still technically inside the Solar System. And while the ratio of particles is easy to check, determining the direction of the magnetic wind takes months of analysis.

Now the space agency has launched a public tool to help everyone keep track of the craft and check where it's up to.

The website includes counters that update every sixa hours, and track levels of two of the three key signs that Voyager is inside or outside the solar system.

If the level of inside particles drops and the level of outside particles rises, that's a suggestion that the craft has passed the boundary.

So far Voyager 2 is definitely within the boundary, while Voyager 1 is close but not quite over the line.

Check back with Nasa's website regularly to see how close the two adventurers get over the coming months.

voyager space

Above: the new tool