TECH

Voyager 1's Radio Signal 'Photographed' From Earth

16/09/2013 10:38 BST

Despite being 36-years-old, 11 billion miles away and comprising of technology so dated it barely stands up to most modern mobile phones, Voyager 1 is still very much alive and kicking.

And to prove it astronomers using Long Baseline Array (VLBA) and Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have taken this image of the spacecraft's ever-so-faint radio signal.

voyager 1

The slightly oblong shape of the image is a result of the VLBA antenna configuration

Detecting it is no mean feat - the signal is a tiny 22 watts which in visible light terms is about the same as a refrigerator light bulb.

Luckily for those searching for it this is still relatively bright compared to Voyager's surroundings.

Walter Brisken, who led the observations with the VLBA, said: "The ability to pinpoint the location of Voyager and other spacecraft is critical as we explore the inner Solar System and beyond."

Last week saw a remarkable landmark in Voyager's epic journey as it was confirmed it had become the first ever man-made object to leave the Solar System.

Voyager 1, which was launched in 1977, is now headed away from the Sun at a speed of about 38,000 miles per hour.

Its initial mission was to just explore the planets in the Solar System but has continued to function far beyond its engineers expectations.

Voyager 1 will now travel alone in space, on a course for the star AC +793888 - which it will never reach.