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Space & Astronomy

Voyager 2 has now entered interstellar space

By T.K. Randall
December 10, 2018 · Comment icon 8 comments

Both Voyager probes still remain in operation. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA has confirmed that the probe has become the second spacecraft ever to leave the heliosphere.
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 officially enter interstellar space and now at last Voyager 2 has succeeded in doing the same.

The fact that both probes have kept going for so long is nothing if not remarkable.
"I think we're all happy and relieved that the Voyager probes have both operated long enough to make it past this milestone," said Voyager Project Manager Suzanne Dodd.

"This is what we've all been waiting for. Now we're looking forward to what we'll be able to learn from having both probes outside the heliopause."

Contrary to popular belief however, both probes are still technically inside the solar system because they have yet to go beyond the Sun's influence.

To reach the true edge of the solar system they will need to pass the Oort Cloud - a large collection of distant objects still influenced by the Sun's gravity - a journey that could take another 30,000 years.

Suffice to say, the two probes have a long way to go yet.

Source: Engadget | Comments (8)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Myles 6 years ago
Pretty awesome that after over 40 years they can still communicate with the spacecraft.  
Comment icon #2 Posted by Gecks 6 years ago
So we can still receive a signal from Voyager 2 ok at that distance? How far out will it need to be before we can no longer? 
Comment icon #3 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
I was wondering about that as well.  If they can the signals will take a long time.  How we'll still know how to receive them.  We don't need V'ger coming home looking for its creator.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
That's not a totally straightforward thing to answer as there are seveal factors involved.  Firstly, and most obviously, the signal we receive on Earth gets weaker the further Voyager moves away from us. The second factor is its power source. It uses a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). These are diminishing in power as they age. The most likely out come is that, to preserve the spacecraft as long as possible, NASA will begin switching off some of the instruments in around 2020. Some time in the late 2020s or early 2030s the RTGs will generate too little power for the Voyagers to t... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
Not at the speed the Voyagers are travelling. In more than 40 years the Voyagers have managed to get a to just 17 light hours from Earth.
Comment icon #6 Posted by joc 6 years ago
So, if Voyager 1 was traveling in the direction of the red dwarf Proxima Centauri at a constant velocity of 60,000 km/hr, it would take 76,000 years (or over 2,500 generations) to travel that distance.  
Comment icon #7 Posted by Gecks 6 years ago
May not have been a straightforward answer but you did a great job of it. Thank you
Comment icon #8 Posted by qxcontinuum 6 years ago
It is impressive to even think about the fact that we still capture signals from these two.

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