NASA launched a spacecraft back in 1972 which was named Pioneer 10 which was the first spacecraft to reach the asteroid belt and yet it also survived. Then NASA launched another spacecraft in 1977, Voyager 2 which are said to be capable of reaching the interstellar space which is indeed a huge achievement. Voyager 1 and 2 have already crossed our solar system and now they are in the interstellar space and Pioneer 10 and 11 are supposed to leave the heliosphere very soon and explore the interstellar space.
The last communication between NASA and Pioneers was in 2003 as after which there has been no contact or signal from the craft and NASA has no clue about the aircraft anymore but the researchers have figured out a way to that when the craft will pass the following stars if it still functional. The team of researchers has found out that Voyager 1 will come close to Gaia within 0.39 pc (1.27 light-years) as Gaia is 159.5 pc (520.22 light-years) away from the sun. As we are 1.29 pc (4.24 light-years) away from Proxima Centauri.
Bailer-Jones conveyed in an interview that, “It was mostly a bit of fun, but it also reminds us how long it takes to get to nearby stars at the kind of speeds these spacecraft have achieved (around 15 km/s relative to the sun).” Jones continued, “It also highlights that the closest encounters because they can be tens or hundreds of thousands of years in the future, can be with stars which are not among the nearest stars to the sun right now, Also, if we want to explore the nearest stars within a human lifetime, we need to accelerate our spacecraft to much higher velocities.” Bailer-Jones also said that the researchers were inspired by the previous work that the team performed in tracing the possible destinations and origins of the interstellar object named ‘Oumuamua’.