35 years ago, Voyager I and its twin Voyager II were launched and have been speeding through the outer reaches of our solar system and sending back unprecedented data and images back home. They were launched in 1977 and have traveled farther from Earth than any other spacecraft in history.

NASA will host a media teleconference at 2PM EST on Monday, Dec. 3, to discuss the latest findings and travels of Voyager I.

No matter how you SLICE it, this NASA experiment is definitely reaching for the stars. On April 21, after being delayed from its original December 2012 launch date, the Sub-orbital Local Interstellar Cloud Experiment (SLICE) was successfully launched from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

 SLICE will use an 8-inch diameter telescope and spectrograph, covering the far-ultraviolet wavelength range, to study the interstellar medium. Scientists will use data from SLICE to learn more about the different phases of the interstellar medium as well as its composition, temperature, and ionization state.

So, why do scientists care about the interstellar medium? It turns out that the immediate interstellar environment determines the structure of the heliosphere, and the structure of the heliosphere determines the way that the planets of a star system interact with stellar winds. This all has a profound effect on a planet’s atmospheric conditions, which is important in determining the potential habitability of exoplanets. In short, studying the interstellar medium with SLICE could aid in the search for extraterrestrial life and give us a better understanding of star systems.


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