NASA’s Voyager 2 probe just entered interstellar space
NASA’s Voyager 2 probe just entered interstellar space
NASA Voyager 2 Enters Interstellar Space
11 December, 2018, 09:59
WASHINGTON, Dec 11 ― Nasa'sVoyager 2 probe has left the protective bubble around the Sun and is flying through interstellar space, becoming the second human-made object to travel so far, the U.S. space agency said yesterday.
Voyager 2 is now NASA's longest-running mission, with 41 years under its belt.
Right now it takes 16.5 hours for scientists to receive data from the probe. NASA says the Voyager 2 is a little over 11 billion miles from our own planet, though its mission operators are still able to communicate with the probe.
Illustration shows the position of NASA's Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, outside of the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Solar wind, the charged plasma particles that come out from the sun, generates this bubble. Its boundary is the outermost edge of the Oort Cloud, a group of small objects influenced by the gravity of our sun. A single AU is equal to the distance from Earth to the sun, or 93 million miles.
"This time is even better for us", said Nicky Fox, director of the heliophysics division at Nasa, noting that one instrument, called the Plasma Science Experiment (PLS), is still functioning on Voyager 2.
"I think we're all happy and relieved that the Voyager probes have both operated long enough to make it past this milestone", Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in the release.
"It's super exciting", said Merav Opher, associate professor of astronomy at Boston University and guest investigator in the Voyager missions since 2005. The science they continue to send back to Earth gives us a taste of the interstellar ocean and will prepare us if we, too, take that plunge to travel to other stars, and become a star-hopping species in the distant future.
At its current speed, Voyager 2 most likely wouldn't reach the inner edge of the Oort Cloud for another 300 years.
After 30,000 years sadly Voyager 2 will no longer be sending data back, sit is predicted to have around five to 10 years of life left. Three other instruments that measure space particles also detected a rapid decrease in solar wind particles and a sharp increase in cosmic rays; all evidence that pointed to Voyager 2 having left the solar wind and transitioning into an entirely different environment. "This is what we've all been waiting for". Each probe contains a 'Golden Record', curated by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan that contains a collection of music, sounds, and images from earth.
NASA launched the twin Voyager spacecraft in 1977 on a mission to explore the outer planets. Originally some scientists speculated our star's winds would peter out in the vicinity of Mars, but the Voyager spacecraft have gradually pushed this boundary far beyond.
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