Watch: Why is Voyager 1 Getting Closer to Earth Right Now?

Getty Images / NASA / Handout
Getty Images / NASA / Handout / Getty Images / NASA / Handout

Voyager 1 is currently the furthest human-made object from Earth, and it's moving fast. It has been zooming on its path since September 1977, and at the time of this writing, it's more than 137 AU (Astronomical Units) away from us. But right now, it's actually getting closer to Earth. How is that possible?

In the video below, Tom Scott visits NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and learns about the Deep Space Network—the radio system that allows us to communicate with probes that are very far away. In the process, he answers the puzzler of the day (text explanation below the video). Enjoy:

If video isn't your thing, the answer is a bit silly: Earth's orbit relative to the Sun is aligned such that we're currently heading in roughly the same direction as Voyager 1, and we're moving fast, which closes the gap. This situation will be reversed as we continue through our orbit, though.