Science

Voyager 2 breaks through to interstellar space

Voyager 2 breaks through to interstellar space”

NASA has made history once again, as Voyager 2 has entered interstellar space - only the second man-made object ever to do so.

The most compelling evidence of the probe's passage across the heliopause - that is, the boundary between the heliosphere and interstellar space - came in the form of data from its Plasma Science Experiment, or PLS, an instrument that stopped working on Voyager 1 in 1980.

According to Nasa, the Voyagers are still technically in our solar system.

While both Voyagers have now departed the sun's heliosphere, they are still inside the solar system as it's currently defined.

When it comes to prodding the very boundaries of the Solar System we all reside in, astronomers have had a notoriously tricky time of figuring out where those edges truly lie.

It will take about 300 years for Voyager 2 to reach the inner edge of the Oort Cloud and up to 30,000 years to fly beyond it.

Voyager 2 launched 16 days before Voyager 1 on August 20, 1977.

The probe, launched in 1977 to study the planets farthest from Earth, crossed the outermost edge of what's called the heliosphere - a protective bubble created by our sun - on November 5.

Sadly, the Voyager spacecraft won't be sending back any images from interstellar space, not that there would be much to see if they did.

Three other instruments measured corresponding changes in cosmic rays, low-energy particles and magnetic field strength.

Mission operators still can communicate with Voyager 2 as it enters the new phase of its journey, but information - moving at the speed of light - takes about 16.5 hours to travel from the spacecraft to Earth. Non-essential instruments and systems such as the cameras aboard the twin spacecraft have been turned off to preserve power.

Trades between power and thermal will continue to keep it operating as long as possible. "If we get out to 2027, that will be a 50-year mission".

Both probes still carry Golden Records containing pictures, messages and sounds from Earth because the spacecraft could outlast human civilization by billions of years. During the 1970s and 1980s, Voyager 2 took on a "Grand Tour" with close flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, while Voyager 1 took a different course that featured a close-up of the Saturnian moon Titan.

"Working on Voyager makes me feel like an explorer, because everything we're seeing is new", MIT's John Richardson, principal investigator for the PLS instrument, said in a news release from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Now we're looking forward to what we'll be able to learn from having both probes outside the heliopause".



Like this

loading...
loading...

Latest


10 December 2018
Messi’s dead-ball brilliance sends Barcelona three points clear at top
Espanyol went looking for a lifeline at the start of the second half, but Barcelona remained unsafe on the break. Messi got up to send the resulting free-kick over the wall and into the top right corner.

10 December 2018
Internet sensation Roger the Buff Kangaroo dies
Arthritis and fading vision plagued Roger in his final years, Barns said, before he died of old age. Other young orphaned 'roos joined Roger at the site and now, about 50 marsupials live there.

10 December 2018
The 'Avengers: Endgame' Trailer Just Broke A Major Record
Perhaps this would be a ideal chance to bring back the Valkyrie, who we didn't get a chance to see during Avengers: Infinity War .

10 December 2018
Does Meghan Markle's Alleged 'Difficult' Behavior Cost Her Another Aide?
This new interview is the first one since October, when Thomas spoke about his daughter's pregnancy for the first time . I wrote her a two-page letter and sent it by certified mail via her representative in Los Angeles.

10 December 2018
Japanese prosecutors indict Ghosn, Nissan for understating pay: Kyodo
In Japan , prosecutors and defendants begin a trial at a district court and can appeal to a high court and the Supreme Court. He is thought to have deferring part of his pay to avoid criticism of his high salary from employees and shareholders.

10 December 2018
Tesla CEO says company could purchase some shuttered GM plants
The SEC settlement would allow Musk to return as chairman after three years, subject to shareholder approval. Musk said he was abiding by the settlement , however, "because I respect the justice system".

10 December 2018
Leaked: Samsung Galaxy S10 Front Camera "Hole"
On @onleaks' render of the Galaxy S10+ , the dual-selfie cameras are placed on the top right corner of the display. The Galaxy A8s is not a flagship device by any stretch of the imagination but the specs are respectable.

10 December 2018
United Kingdom can unilaterally halt Brexit, European Court rules
It is far from clear whether or how Britain could organise a new referendum, notably given the short time left until Brexit. There is also speculation that the the upcoming Westminster vote on the Brexit deal could be delayed.

10 December 2018
Good Morning Britain: Im A Celeb star Harry Redknapp SLAMS Emily Atack
He told the Bush Telegraph of his attire: "To be honest with you, when I first married Sandra she had bigger knickers than this". The I'm A Celeb favourite let slip a cheeky comment about childhood sweetheart wife Sandra when they reunited over the weekend .

10 December 2018
1st Test: India in promising position after Day 3
The offspinner took three wickets - all of them left-handed batsmen - while keeping one end tight during a 22-over spell. Langer said he "loved seeing that passion" but felt Australia players would be judged differently if they did the same.