Space probe reports from ‘beyond’ our solar system
● Voyager 2 sends its findings after reaching interstellar region
Nasa’s Voyager 2 has reported back with its initial cosmic findings – a year after becoming the second man-made object to “leave” the solar system.
The probe blasted off from Earth 42 years ago, 16 days before its twin spacecraft, Voyager 1, and crossed the outer edge of the sun’s protective bubble, known as the heliopause, on November 5 2018.
It entered the interstellar medium, the region outside the heliopause made up of gas, dust and cosmic rays, six years after Voyager 1 due to its slower trajectory.
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Researchers confirmed the spacecraft’s journey into the “space between the stars” by noting a “definitive jump” in the density of the plasma, made up of charged particles and gas, in interstellar space.
It is similar to the plasma density jump experienced by Voyager 1 when it crossed into interstellar space, the researchers said.
Among many things, the astronomers are looking to gain a better understanding of how the solar winds – the stream of charged particles coming out of the sun – interact with the INCREDIBLE JOURNEY: A Nasa illustration of a Voyager probe, both of which blasted off from Earth 42 years ago, 16 days apart
interstellar winds, made up of particles from other stars.
Dr Edward Stone, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology and former director of the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “We are trying to understand the nature of the boundary where these two winds collide.”
The astronomers believe the probes’ journeys, with their different mission goals and trajectories, give “valuable clues” about the structure of the Elvis Presley performs in concert in Milwaukee, 1977
heliosphere, a vast bubble encompassing the sun and the solar system.
Bill Kurth, a research scientist at the University of Iowa and one of the authors of the studies, said: “It implies that the heliosphere is symmetric, at least at the two points where the Vo y a g e r spacecraft crossed.”
Even though they made it out of the sun’s bubble, astronomers maintain that the Voyagers are still in the solar system because it stretches to the outer edge of the Oort cloud
– comprising water ice, ammonia and methane – which surrounds the sun.
Dr Stone said the crafts’ plutonium power sources will eventually stop supplying electricity, at which point their instruments and their transmitters will die.
Dr Kurth believes both Voyagers “will outlast Earth”, adding: “They’re in their own orbits around the galaxy for five billion years or longer.
“And the probability of them running into anything is almost zero.” The Commodore PET was unveiled in Chicago