Voyager 1 enters new region of solar system, on verge of crossing over to interstellar space

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The unstoppable Voyager 1 spacecraft has sailed into a new realm of the solar system that scientists did not know existed.


Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, have been speeding away from the sun toward interstellar space, or the space between stars.

Over the summer, Voyager 1, which is farther along in its journey, crossed into this new region where the effects from the outside can be felt.

“We do believe this may be the very last layer between us and interstellar space,” said chief scientist Ed Stone of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the spacecraft.

Stone presented Voyager 1’s latest location at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Voyager 1 is on track to become the first manmade object to exit the solar system. Exactly when that day will come is unknown, partly because there’s no precedent.

Stone estimated Voyager 1 still has two to three years to travel before reaching the boundary that separates the solar system from the rest of space.

Written By: By Associated Press,
continue to source article at washingtonpost.com

8 COMMENTS

  1. This program has cost us less than 1 billion dollars. I think it’s one of the best investments we have ever made. 35+ years, and they are still going strong. NASA is a great organization. It saddens me that we set their budget at less than 18 billion, but we spent 2 trillion on 2 stupid wars that have amounted to nothing. 

  2. It is unfortunate that this OP article has been written by a journalist who shows so little understanding of scientific terminology and  basic astronomy.

    I would suggest reading this JPL article instead of the OP link.

    http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/mi… –
    Mission Objective

    The mission objective of the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM) is to extend the NASA exploration of the solar system beyond the neighborhood of the outer planets to the outer limits of the Sun’s sphere of influence, and possibly beyond. This extended mission is continuing to characterize the outer solar system environment and search for the heliopause boundary, the outer limits of the Sun’s magnetic field and outward flow of the solar wind. Penetration of the heliopause boundary between the solar wind and the interstellar medium will allow measurements to be made of the interstellar fields, particles and waves unaffected by the solar wind.

    At the start of the VIM, the two Voyager spacecraft had been in flight for over 12 years having been launched in August (Voyager 2) and September (Voyager 1), 1977. Voyager 1 was at a distance of approximately 40 AU (Astronomical Unit – mean distance of Earth from the Sun, 150 million kilometers) from the Sun, and Voyager 2 was at a distance of approximately 31 AU from the Sun.

    It is appropriate to consider the VIM as three distinct phases:
    the termination shock,
    heliosheath exploration,
    and interstellar exploration phases.
    The two Voyager spacecraft began the VIM operating, and are still operating, in an environment controlled by the Sun’s magnetic field with the plasma particles being dominated by those contained in the expanding supersonic solar wind. This is the characteristic environment of the termination shock phase. At some distance from the Sun, the supersonic solar wind will be held back from further expansion by the interstellar wind. The first feature encountered by a spacecraft as a result of this interstellar wind/solar wind interaction was be the termination shock where the solar wind slows from supersonic to subsonic speed and large changes in plasma flow direction and magnetic field orientation occur.  

    Voyager timeline: – http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/mi… 

    There are two very good images below.

    http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/mi

    http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/mi

  3. Amazing that the technology of voyager is ‘old hat’ by today’s standards.  Just think what we could do with the money that is being spent on internecine wars, and religious missionary ‘education’ programs.  

  4. I want to air something that annoys the hell out of me. These space programs are expensive, really expensive , they are essentially payed by the tax payer ( at least that’s the theory ). Why cant these people put proper video and imaging technology on these aircraft. Do you know what I’d give if I could have had proper high def video streaming as curiosity approached mars or what I’d give if I could get streaming picture (fair enough the technology might not have supported video at the time) on the voyager. I don’t care if its black. To interact with that would be good enough. It drives me mad.

  5. Pauly_
    I want to air something that annoys the hell out of me. These space
    programs are expensive, really expensive , they are essentially payed by the tax payer ( at least that’s the theory ). Why cant these people put proper video and imaging technology on these aircraft.

    There are quite a few around if you type the right words into google!  

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/si

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/s

    http://pds-rings.seti.org/satu

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

    http://www.space.com/15432-sat

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