Alex Witt | September 14, 2013
>> launch control team said everything went perfectly.
>> and that was voyager one blasting off into orbit back in 1977 on a mission deep into the solar system . back then, scientists will no idea how far the spacecraft would travel or whether the mission would be a success. well, it certainly has been. 36 years more than 11 billion miles later, the voyager 1 has gone further than any manmide object or spacecraft has gone before ever. just how far the voyager one has traveled is mind boggling which is why tear rick mallek is joining us now to break all of this down. can you put this into perspective, billions of miles?
>> yeah, voyager one is nearly 12 billion miles away . it's beak outside the bubble of everything that we know. it's in the space between the stars really. you know, it's taken 35 years, 36 years for it to get there. and the fact that it's still alive is pretty amazing
>> how did that happen? i mean, it was supposed to working for about five years, right?
>> yeah, it has at its heart a nuclear power source. that is just -- it keeps going like that energizer bunny all the way out. parts of it have broken down. nasa has turned off parts of it. it can't take pictures anymore but it can beam the signal back from the edge of the solar system . that's what told them it's popped free.
>> when it beams back, how long does it take to get back to earth.
>> regardless of how far it is.
>> i believe it takes hours to get back.
>> hours and hours.
>> that seems like nothing given how far away it is.
>> it seems like nothing but you know, it takes just a few minutes, about 20 minutes or so to get to mars. so that kind of puts things into perspective for this one. they call them light hours how long it takes the signal to get to earth.
>> what's the last photo that it took.
>> back in 1990 , the last picture that this spacecraft really took was a portrait of our solar system , the pale blue dot is how it's known showing earth as this little blue spec in a vast vast ocean of black. and just like last month, nasa said looks look at voyager now. they trained all their radio telescopes and looked at the signal and found their own little blue dot. that's the spacecraft 12 billion miles away .
>> it's incredible. so it has gone outside of our solar system .
>> into what?
>> well, that's an interesting question. it's in the interstellar space . beak our solar system is surrounded by this protective bubble that is created by the sun as we move around in the milky way . voyager is now outside of that. and it's in this kind of weird alien environment. there's other particles out there coming from other stars now which is a big first for them. the key distinction though, you mentioned outside of the solar system . there's this other region called the orc cloud where all the comets we see come from. it's going to be 300 years before voyager gets there. it's in interstellar space but it still has this other kind of belt to get through before it's truly kind of out in the void.
>> my producer just told me to wrap. i'm so bummed. i seriously could talk all day with you about this. tarik malik, thanks you.