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As Voyager 1 nears edge of the solar system, a last look back (pictures)

Before NASA's peripatetic space craft, which is soon expected to head into parts unknown, a review of some of the more stunning images sent back since 1977.

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Charles Cooper
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1 of 8 JPL/NASA

Jupiter in all its glory

OK, looks like everyone may have gotten a bit ahead of themselves. Earlier today, a spate of stories made the rounds to the effect that NASA's Voyager 1 had left the solar system. Not so fast, said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, who says the "consensus of the Voyager science team" is that Voyager 1 is still making its way through the solar system and has not yet reached interstellar space. However, it's only a matter of time before the craft indeed exits the border region that astronomers call "the magnetic highway." (Astronomers believed the craft reached the magnetic highway region on July 28, 2012. )

This is not the last word on the topic as several papers addressing the dispute over whether Voyager 1 is still in our solar system will be issued by Voyager scientists in coming weeks.

But barring the unexpected, it's only a matter of time before Voyager 1's journey continues deeper into space. At that point, maybe we'll even see more beauties like this spectacular photo of Jupiter taken by Voyager 1 on February 5, 1979. Hopefully.

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2 of 8 JPL/NASA

Jupiter's Great Red

Jupiter's Great Red Spot enhanced to accentuate variations in the Jovian atmosphere.
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3 of 8 JPL/NASA

Saturn up close

Voyager 1, which like its sister craft Voyager 2 launched in 1977, now owns the record of being the most distant human-made object, about 11 billion miles from the sun. In this image, you can see an amazing shot Voyager 1 took of Saturn and the shadow of its ring system.
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4 of 8 JPL/NASA

Jupiter and two satellites

Jupiter and two of its moons (Io, left, and Europa).
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5 of 8 JPL/NASA

Jupiter's Great Red Spot

Jupiter's Great Red Spot photographed by Voyager 1 on February 25, 1979, when the spacecraft was 5.7 million miles away.
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6 of 8 JPL/NASA

Io's volcanic plains

Another look at Io's volcanic plains with volcanic calderas and lava flows visible in the image.
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7 of 8 JPL/NASA

An active plume of Loki

An image of Io showing an active plume of Loki.
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8 of 8 JPL/NASA

Where are you, Voyager 1?

Artist representation of NASA's Voyager 1 as it makes its way through the region in our solar system called the "magnetic highway."

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