The human species keeps experiencing threshold moments. At times it seems everything's right on the brink. This time, there's a nice change: It's a good thing. There's even a love story here, as sincere and big-hearted as space.
First, the news: Fans of sci-fi and science fact are coming up on a special moment: knowing an object of human origin is about to move into interstellar space.
Nearly 35 years after launch, two Voyager spacecraft, sent aloft less than three weeks apart, in the summer of 1977, are thrumming along fine, and continue to send back intriguing accounts of their journeys.
Voyager 1 is now 11 billion miles from the Sun; Voyager 2 is on its tail, of a sort, a billion and two-thirds miles back, just 9 and a third billion miles from our sun.
ScienceDaily notes a report from Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of California Institute of Technology, which continues to operate both vehicles. Scientists have said there have been rapid changes in two of the three key signs that would signal a shift into interstellar space.
Changes in those two key signs have changed faster in one day than at any other time in the previous seven years. Clearly, something new is afoot -- or at hand, as you prefer.
Some hints that threshold of change is approaching: a 5 percent jump in cosmic rays coming from outside our solar system, along with a 50 percent drop in lower-energy particles coming from inside our system.