NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft enters interstellar space

NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft
NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft
A NASA illustration depicts the positions of both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, now outside the heliosphere. Voyager 1 left the heliosphere in August 2012, while Voyager 2 left at a different location last month. NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s voyager two probe has reached interstellar space at about eleven billion miles from Earth, making it only the second human-made object to do thus, according to the space agency.

Why it matters: voyager two, that joins its twin voyager one in crossing the heliopause (the boundary between the hot solar wind and cold, interstellar space), can provide scientists with crucial observations about the kinds of particles and forces the spacecraft encounters, like cosmic rays. this is large, given that a key instrument aboard voyager one stopped working before that spacecraft crossed the boundary.

  • The information collected by voyager two will also be helpful to planners of future human spaceflight missions, since journeys that expose astronauts to cosmic rays will pose health risks.


The details: NASA said information from instruments aboard voyager two show that on November. five the spacecraft exited the heliosphere (the protective shield of particles and powerful magnetic fields caused by the sun).

  • Scientists detailed their findings at a press conference at the american geophysical Union’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Monday, including new information from the spacecraft’s Plasma Science Experiment, or PLS.
  • The PLS is used to observe the speed, density, temperature, pressure and flux of the solar wind, and on Nov. five it showed a steep decline in solar wind particles. The PLS has not shown any solar wind flow since, that confirms scientists’ judgment that it’s left the heliosphere.
  • Other instruments aboard the spacecraft also showed an uptick in powerful cosmic rays, that scientists expected to see once the spacecraft entered interstellar space.

The backdrop: both voyager one and 2 launched in 1977, and scientists said they hope they’ll last fifty years.

They are saying-Even voyager one crossed Heliopolis in year 2012, it did thus at different place and different time, and with out PLS Information Data. Thus we are still observing things that no one had seen before, said John Richardson, principal research Scientist at MIT, in a Press Release.

  • “One of the good things about voyager is it keeps surprising us,” said ed Stone, voyager project scientist based at Caltech in Pasadena, California, at the group discussion.
  • “I like to say that voyager one and 2 are pretty healthy if you consider them senior citizens,” said Suzanna Dodd, JPL’s director for the interplanetary Network directorate.

Yes, but: while the probes have entered interstellar space, they need not left the solar system. it’d take voyager two as several as 30,000 more years to reach the boundary of the solar system, NASA said.

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