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Voyager 1 enters interstellar space (again)


Posted on Friday, 11 July, 2014 | Comment icon 18 comments

In interstellar space at last ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's legendary space probe is now believed to have finally exited the solar system after 36 years.
Launched in 1977 as part of an ambitious mission to explore the outer planets, Voyager 1 has traveled more than 12 billion miles and has long been suspected of becoming the first man-made object to leave our solar system behind.

It has however been rather difficult to determine exactly at what point this milestone has been reached as the specific point at which the solar system ends and interstellar space begins is far from clear. Over the years there have been several announcements suggesting that the probe had finally achieved this goal, but each time further research had indicated that the celebrations had been premature.

This time though NASA believes that it has it right thanks to a recent tsunami of plasma from the sun.

"Normally, interstellar space is like a quiet lake," said lead Voyager 1 scientist Ed Stone. "But when our sun has a burst, it sends a shock wave outward that reaches Voyager about a year later. The wave causes the plasma surrounding the spacecraft to sing."

By analyzing the oscillations of the surrounding plasma using the probe's instruments it has been possible to confirm that Voyager 1 has finally found itself in interstellar space.

Whether this will really be the final word on the matter however remains to be seen.

Source: Independent | Comments (18)

Tags: Voyager


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #9 Posted by shrooma on 11 July, 2014, 16:35
Considering how much we know about 'the edge of the Solar system' it could just bounce off 'something' and return back : . i reckon, Sir, that if it was gonna hit something that, at that speed, would make it rebound, it wouldn't do it any favours at all! besides, we all know we'll be seeing it again in 2273, when it comes back in Blofeld mode for some unfathomable reason. . or summat.... .
Comment icon #10 Posted by toast on 11 July, 2014, 17:02
So if i understand correctly, when there's no more sun's plasma hitting the Voyager probe, they will assume it went out the sun's reach, therefore out of the solar system? I am just wondering how do they know this probe is travelling straight ahead and not simply moving in circles within our solar system boundaries. It`still sending signals so its position and track can be determinated well.
Comment icon #11 Posted by shrooma on 11 July, 2014, 18:48
It`still sending signals so its position and track can be determinated well. . pretty obvious, really. .
Comment icon #12 Posted by coolguy on 12 July, 2014, 4:28
This is awesome this thing is still working.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Scuzzy on 12 July, 2014, 5:34
This certainly emphasizes the futility of traveling to another star system given our current level of technology, 36 years and we are only now leaving our own solar system. And this, I believe, is the fastest object humanity has launched into space, due largely to the "sling-shot" effect of using the gravity of the outer planets. No one who launches a probe to another star will live long enough to know if it arrived. Not if NASA's warp drive works... http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/184143-nasa-unveils-its-futuristic-warp-drive-starship-called-enterprise-of-course
Comment icon #14 Posted by MyOtherAccount on 12 July, 2014, 6:01
Talk about bang for your buck! Just think in 40 years the kids of that generation will be saying Vouger I is a hoax. And Nostradamus predicted it.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Hawkin on 12 July, 2014, 15:23
What do scientist consider the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space? The last planet or The Oort Cloud?
Comment icon #16 Posted by toast on 12 July, 2014, 17:16
What do scientist consider the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space? The last planet or The Oort Cloud? None of both. The region that marks the border of the solar system is called Heliopause, the outer layer of the Heliosphere http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliosphere http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/
Comment icon #17 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 12 July, 2014, 23:07
What do scientist consider the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space? The last planet or The Oort Cloud? Certainly not the last planet. The last known planet is Neptune which would Pluto and other Kuiper belt objects outside the solar system... which is clearly nonsensical. The region that marks the border of the solar system is called Heliopause, the outer layer of the Heliosphere This is the border of the solar system in terms of the Sun's influence by way of energetic particles. The solar wind no longer rules and the interstellar wind takes precedence. It is a measurable ... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by Sir Smoke aLot on 21 August, 2014, 9:45
Was just thinking about gravity, thanks for info Waspie_Dwarf. Considering that the Sun is moving very fast around center of galaxy ( i find speed is 220km/s, from wikipedia ) is it possible that Voyager 1 can leave the Suns gravity influence at all? And if it do leave at some point we would loose contact with it forever anyway.


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