NASA’s Voyager 1, which last week made headlines after scientists announced it had officially left our solar system, is now more than 11 billion miles from Earth. It has traveled farther than any other object humanity has ever produced.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t still spot it in the sky from Earth. Using a network of 10 radio telescopes called the Very Long Baseline Array, astronomers found and photographed the glow coming from Voyager’s main transmitter. The signal is beaming from the satellite at 22 watts, “which is comparable to a typical police car radio or — in visible light — a refrigerator light bulb,” says the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) team that tracked down the little probe that could.
Even though Voyager’s transmission broadcasts at such low power, they say, it is significantly stronger than any of the naturally occurring radio waves around it. Another instrument, called the Green Bank telescope, picked out Voyager from the background noise within one second.