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Voyager 2 is nearing the edge of the solar system

Posted on Monday, 8 October, 2018 | Comment icon 5 comments

The two Voyager probes are a long way from home. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The long-lived interplanetary spacecraft is set to become the second probe ever to reach interstellar space.
Launched in 1977, both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have traveled further from the Earth than any other man-made object in history and remain fully operational despite 40 years of traveling through space.

Their original mission to visit the four gas giants was made possible by a rare planetary configuration that happens only once every 175 years - an opportunity that NASA couldn't afford to miss.

Six years ago, Voyager 1 became the first of the two spacecraft to leave the confines of the solar system and now it looks as though Voyager 2 may be about to do the same.

"Since late August, the Cosmic Ray Subsystem instrument on Voyager 2 has measured about a five percent increase in the rate of cosmic rays hitting the spacecraft," NASA wrote.

"The probe's Low-Energy Charged Particle instrument has detected a similar increase in higher-energy cosmic rays."

Voyager 1 also detected a similar increase in cosmic rays around three months before crossing the heliopause - the theoretical boundary at which the solar wind is stopped by the interstellar medium.

Exactly when Voyager 2 will cross in to interstellar space however remains uncertain.

"We're going to learn a lot in the coming months, but we still don't know when we'll reach the heliopause," said Voyager Project Scientist Ed Stone.

"We're not there yet - that's one thing I can say with confidence."

Source: Science Alert | Comments (5)

Tags: Voyager 2

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by seanjo on 7 October, 2018, 9:45
41 years and only just about to leave the Solar system.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Seti42 on 8 October, 2018, 12:19
I'm 42 and still haven't left the solar system.
Comment icon #3 Posted by L.A.T.1961 on 8 October, 2018, 12:59
An amazing achievement, there have been some changes to the spacecraft as power runs down and systems turned off to keep others working.   The following lists those loads that have been turned off : 1991 — PPS Science Instrument (+1.2 W) - 1991 1994 — NA Optics Heater OFF (+2.6 W) - 1994 1996 — WA Vidicon Heater OFF (+5.5 W) - 1996 1996 — NA Vidicon Heater OFF (+5.5 W) - 1996 1998 — The following Scan Platform loads (43.9 W) were turned off and the UVS mission was terminated: * WA Electronics Replacement Heater OFF (+10.5 W) * IRIS Replacement Heater OFF (+7.8 W) * NA Electronics Replacement H... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by Chortle on 8 October, 2018, 15:10
Presumably there will be a point when these crafts become unresponsive even with power saving measures taken; How far are we from then and how far out will we get?
Comment icon #5 Posted by L.A.T.1961 on 8 October, 2018, 16:30
As long as there are no hardware failures the predicted rate of power loss will end the mission in about 10 years. I am not sure about receiving the signal from the spacecraft, presumably the deep space network will still be able to pull a signal out from the background noise as voyager moves further away. 

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