Friday, June 17, 2011

Voyager May Have Left the Big Back Yard?!

Scientists analyzing data returning from Voyager 1 may have crossed into the helio-pause and entered for all intents - interstellar space, much sooner than they had expected it to.

This is based on data from Voyager's low-energy charged particle instrument. This instrument is now indicating that charged particles from the sun are no longer moving. This phenomenon first presented itself in February of this year (2011) telling controllers that Voyager has moved into an unexpected area much sooner than they expected.

At this point the area of charged particles persists around the sun out to a distance of 11 billion miles or so and with Voyager at that very same distance, it was only a matter of time before it happened and may have taken place already.

Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist, says "...Voyager 1 speeds outward a billion miles every three years, so we may not have long to wait..."

Complete Daily Galaxy Article Here


Homer said...

We continue to praise the Mars rovers for their longevity (as well we should) but NOTHING compares to the Voyager twins. Pushing 34 years in space with technology from the mid 70's! I was only 19 years old when the Voyagers were launched. I can only imagine what these vehicles are encountering out there, but I'll bet that it is one of wonder an awe!!

Beam Me Up said...

Good call Homer. I am amazed still at the voyager longevity, but remember they were specifically designed for longevity, where the twin rovers were on a 90 day romp and they continued to amaze everyone involved. The voyager twins remember had nuclear isotopes to power them and will continue to power them for another decade and a half. Plus they were far less than 100% in carrying out their mission goals because of critical system failures not discounting the memory problems that required them to be reprogram in flight. Give it up for the crew handling the Voyagers. Their job was like rebuilding a jet engine while the plane was at 40K feet up! The success of the Martian rovers as well as the voyagers is testimony to their crew's dedication.