Voyager near Solar System's edge

Discussion in 'User Submitted News' started by soulx, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. soulx

    soulx GBAtemp Legend

    Apr 4, 2009

    Voyager 1, the most distant spacecraft from Earth, has reached a new milestone in its quest to leave the Solar System.

    Now 17.4bn km (10.8bn miles) from home, the veteran probe has detected a distinct change in the flow of particles that surround it.

    These particles, which emanate from the Sun, are no longer travelling outwards but are moving sideways.

    It means Voyager must be very close to making the jump to interstellar space - the space between the stars.

    Edward Stone, the Voyager project scientist, lauded the explorer and the fascinating science it continues to return 33 years after launch.

    "When Voyager was launched, the space age itself was only 20 years old, so there was no basis to know that spacecraft could last so long," he told BBC News.

    "We had no idea how far we would have to travel to get outside the Solar System. We now know that in roughly five years, we should be outside for the first time."

    Dr Stone was speaking here at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, the largest gathering of Earth scientists in the world.
    Particle bubble

    Voyager 1 was launched on 5 September 1977, and its sister spacecraft, Voyager 2, on 20 August 1977.

    The Nasa probes' initial goal was to survey the outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, a task completed in 1989.

    They were then despatched towards deep space, in the general direction of the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy.

    Sustained by their radioactive power packs, the probes' instruments continue to function well and return data to Earth, although the vast distance between them and Earth means a radio message now has a travel time of about 16 hours.

    The newly reported observation comes from Voyager 1's Low-Energy Charged Particle Instrument, which has been monitoring the velocity of the solar wind.

    This stream of charged particles forms a bubble around our Solar System known as the heliosphere. The wind travels at "supersonic" speed until it crosses a shockwave called the termination shock.

    At this point, the wind then slows dramatically and heats up in a region termed the heliosheath. Voyager has determined the velocity of the wind at its location has now slowed to zero.
    Racing onwards

    "We have gotten to the point where the wind from the Sun, which until now has always had an outward motion, is no longer moving outward; it is only moving sideways so that it can end up going down the tail of the heliosphere, which is a comet-shaped-like object," said Dr Stone, who is based at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.

    This phenomenon is a consequence of the wind pushing up against the matter coming from other stars. The boundary between the two is the "official" edge of the Solar System - the heliopause. Once Voyager crosses over, it will be in interstellar space.

    First hints that Voyager had encountered something new came in June. Several months of further data were required to confirm the observation.

    "When I realized that we were getting solid zeroes, I was amazed," said Rob Decker, a Voyager Low-Energy Charged Particle Instrument co-investigator from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

    "Here was Voyager, a spacecraft that has been a workhorse for 33 years, showing us something completely new again."

    Voyager 1 is racing on towards the heliopause at 17km/s. Dr Stone expects the cross-over to occur within the next few years.

    Although launched first, Voyager 2 was put on a slower path and is currently just over 14bn km from Earth.[/p]

    [​IMG] Source

    Exciting information. Perhaps some extra-terrestrials will encounter it.
  2. Stevetry

    Stevetry Most perverted person in GBATEMP

    Jan 15, 2009
    Starship voyager XD
  3. BloodyFlame

    BloodyFlame GBAtemp Fan

    Aug 6, 2010
    United States
    This is some very exciting news! Maybe we'll find out some things concerning extra-terrestrial life.
  4. naughtynazgul

    naughtynazgul GBAtemp Regular

    Jul 13, 2008
    lol Interstellar traffic collision? =P
  5. 431unknown

    431unknown Greatness Awaits

    Sep 29, 2008
    United States
    Nice to see its still working and transmiting data back.
  6. Jamstruth

    Jamstruth Secondary Feline Anthropomorph

    Apr 23, 2009
    North East Scotland
    Hopefully it won't run into any Borg or we're in the shitter.
  7. Bladexdsl

    Bladexdsl ZOMG my's over 9000!!!

    Nov 17, 2008
    the guys who hit it: that damn thing scratched da paint on me ufo find out who owns it we going there and gonna kik their asses!
  8. Narayan

    Narayan desu~

    Sep 29, 2010
    i wish i'm still alive until the day us normal humans can travel in space.
  9. ProtoKun7

    ProtoKun7 GBAtemp Time Lord Regenerations: 4

    Former Staff
    Jan 3, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Or V'Ger, even.

    (For anyone else that watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
  10. Fear Zoa

    Fear Zoa Still Alive

    Jun 18, 2009
    United States
    Perhaps "In a galaxy far far away " isn't so far away anymore ..........

    Find the death star! and blow it up of course!
  11. VashTS

    VashTS Beat it, son

    GBAtemp Patron
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    Our Patreon
    Mar 14, 2009
    United States
    Upstate NY
    thats voyagers real mission. stop darth vader.

    its great to see that they built a space probe in 1977 that has been traveling this long and still working. now if i could buy a tv that lasted more than 1 year without crapping out. srsly i know two people who had big screen lcd's that died within 1 year.
  12. CannonFoddr

    CannonFoddr Regular GBATemp Lurker

    Sep 23, 2006
    Sitting by computer
    Yep - I did (too many SFX IMHO) - I thought the same thing(s) when I saw the post title


    Still we've got another 2000-odd year to wait before it returns - nothing to worry about
  13. scrtmstr

    scrtmstr GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Aug 20, 2009
    the Netherregions!
    Those things were build to survive the apocolypes, as was everything else back then. My grandma has got a 1980's tv, which still works. All the new crap is not build to last forever, but to last as long as the warranty, so that consumers will buy a new product.
  14. shlong

    shlong in memoriam of gravitas

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    shlong is a Patron of GBAtemp and is helping us stay independent!

    Our Patreon
    Jun 18, 2009
    Charlotte's maze
    This is pretty awesome [​IMG]
  15. Shinigami357

    Shinigami357 Current "give a fuck" level: Honey Badger

    Jul 29, 2010
    I wanna see Pluto (134340 Pluto) spank it to debris for revenge. Damn idiots.

    On Topic:

    Well, finally the slow homo sapiens have something that might eventually go out further than actual beings ever have. Shame on you slow mortals. LOL
  16. Langin

    Langin HI! ^O^

    Jul 29, 2008
    The Hague
    The death star will survive, the empire will destroy us all. [​IMG]
  17. Kkolko

    Kkolko GBAtemp Regular

    Nov 22, 2008
    This is transmitting from 17.4bn Km away and my wireless stops at 150 meters? I call shenanigans! [​IMG]

    Great to see we're still discovering new things [​IMG]
  18. mkoo

    mkoo GBAtemp Fan

    Aug 30, 2007
    Still long way to Ocampa
  19. toguro_max

    toguro_max GBAtemp Fan

    Feb 24, 2007
    São Vicente, Brazil

    It's weird to think a 30+ years old probe (that's quite far from here), using a technology from 30+ years ago is still working and sending info back "home".

    Who can assure this data is not fake? That it was not sent by aliens, trying to fool us all?

    [/conspiracy status=off fear=on xfiles=finished]