Voyager 1 Spacecraft About to Leave Solar System

Hevva

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Voyager 1 Spacecraft About to Leave Solar System



11 billion miles from home, Voyager 1 is on the verge of interstellar space.

Launched in 1977, NASA's Dr. Carl Sagan [http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html], unless it was able to pass the record to any friendly space aliens. Now, 33 years on, Voyager 1 has excelled at first two tasks; just as well, too, since it's about to leave the solar system.

For the past few months Voyager 1 has been picking up far more charged particles than it has previously, leading researchers to conclude that the machine is moving through the heliosheath located at the edge of the heliosphere within which our solar system resides (see above). Once it passes this barrier, Voyager will officially achieve interstellar status.

"The laws of physics say that someday Voyager will become the first human-made object to enter interstellar space, but we still do not know exactly when that someday will be," commented Ed Stone, Voyager Project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

"The latest data indicate that we are clearly in a new region where things are changing more quickly," Stone continued. "It is very exciting. We are approaching the solar system's frontier."

How will we be able to know when Voyager 1 has cleared the heliosphere and properly escaped our system, then? Scientists have drummed up a few possible predictions of what life outside the heliosphere might be like to assist in deciding. The first indicator is the amount heliosphere-generated energized particles bumping against Voyager 1, a number which has been slowly dwindling over the last few months. However, scientists say that they expect to see a sudden, visible drop in the number of these particles once the craft is completely clear of the heliosphere.

Another indicator of transition to interstellar space could be a shift in the magnetic fields surrounding Voyager 1. Scientists expect that clearing the solar boundary will mean that the fields shift from a regular east-west orientation to a more interstellar-esque north-south one once the craft breaks through.

"When the Voyagers launched in 1977, the space age was all of 20 years old," added Stone. "Many of us on the team dreamed of reaching interstellar space, but we really had no way of knowing how long a journey it would be - or if these two vehicles that we invested so much time and energy in would operate long enough to reach it."

According to NASA, some of Voyager 1's instrumentation could continue collecting and transmitting data for another 20 or 30 years [http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/news/factsheet.html] (remote reprogramming is being used to strategically shut down systems and conserve energy). With that in mind, the optimists among us might start smiling at the thought of finding out what kind of information a truly interstellar Voyager might send home. The heliosheath isn't small by any means, and 20 years isn't that long in terms of space travel; but maybe, just maybe, Voyager will still be talking by the time it becomes the first human object to see the universe from beyond our solar system.


Source: Space.com [http://www.space.com/16167-voyager1-spacecraft-interstellar-space.html]

Image: NASA/JPL Caltech [http://i.space.com/images/i/10243/original/voyager-nasa-solar-system-heliosheath.jpg?1308170383]



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mikecoulter

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This is so awesome, I can't imagine humankind carrying out another awe inspiring project for decades to come.
 

Jandau

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Yeah, keep moving, Voyager. Don't you dare come back! We don't want your kind around here! :p
 

Hevva

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its been going for decades and still hasnt had a RROD :D
 

Fappy

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The Voyager needs its own cheer leading squad imo.
 

endnuen

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So 30 years to the edge of the solar system ? With 30 year old tech.
Time to upgrade and make some new ones eh?
Now let's get people on mars and a base on the moon.

Go team scientist!
 

Terminate421

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Star Trek: Voyager isn't too far off then, eh?

Imagine if there are aliens sitting on the edge of space just waiting for us to do something interstellar, they then bring voyager right back to us.
 

Hevva

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a long journey indeed.

and with 30 year old tech. this IS impressive.
 

newwiseman

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Damn I though Voyager left the system about 5 years ago... what the hell did I read five year ago that mentioned voyage leaving...

ah well, Nice to see something made when the program had a budget is still doing its job.
 

Hevva

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teh_Canape said:
please please please please tell me they will find Thessia
not if the reapers find it first :p
Terminate421 said:
Star Trek: Voyager isn't too far off then, eh?

Imagine if there are aliens sitting on the edge of space just waiting for us to do something interstellar, they then bring voyager right back to us.


yes. they will come in "peace"
 

Terminate421

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rhizhim said:
teh_Canape said:
please please please please tell me they will find Thessia
not if the reapers find it first :p
Terminate421 said:
Star Trek: Voyager isn't too far off then, eh?

Imagine if there are aliens sitting on the edge of space just waiting for us to do something interstellar, they then bring voyager right back to us.


yes. they will come in "peace"
Well, I meant the solar system, most likely, we'd see more of this:

 

Matthi205

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"30 years out in space with 30 year old tech"
Quite exactly what I thought at first (It shouldn't take longer than 15 years with state-of-the-art tech btw) . Also , finding extraterrestrial life with the Voyagers should be quite a problem , as most of their instruments have to be shut down to conserve power .
On another note , establishing colonies on Mars or the Moon is no real problem anymore - there's just no funds for it . Mars might also have a biosphere that we could destroy (even if it's under the surface in methane lakes) . If someone could clear out the 2 major obstacles - funding and information about Mars' biosphere - there'll be a spacecraft on its way to there in 2 or 3 years .
 

PrinceOfShapeir

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Matthi205 said:
"30 years out in space with 30 year old tech"
Quite exactly what I thought at first (It shouldn't take longer than 15 years with state-of-the-art tech btw) . Also , finding extraterrestrial life with the Voyagers should be quite a problem , as most of their instruments have to be shut down to conserve power .
On another note , establishing colonies on Mars or the Moon is no real problem anymore - there's just no funds for it . Mars might also have a biosphere that we could destroy (even if it's under the surface in methane lakes) . If someone could clear out the 2 major obstacles - funding and information about Mars' biosphere - there'll be a spacecraft on its way to there in 2 or 3 years .
...um, we've landed several probes on Mars already.
 

shrekfan246

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undeadsuitor said:
And with that,we've just created V'Ger.

hoo boy.
Aw damn, I knew I'd get ninja'd. I was going to quote the guy who mentioned Star Trek: Voyager and go all "More like Star Trek: The Motion Picture!"

But yeah, crazy stuff. The guys who made Voyager 1 really knew how to build things to last.
 

PlaidHatter

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Matthi205 said:
"30 years out in space with 30 year old tech"
Quite exactly what I thought at first (It shouldn't take longer than 15 years with state-of-the-art tech btw) . Also , finding extraterrestrial life with the Voyagers should be quite a problem , as most of their instruments have to be shut down to conserve power .
On another note , establishing colonies on Mars or the Moon is no real problem anymore - there's just no funds for it . Mars might also have a biosphere that we could destroy (even if it's under the surface in methane lakes) . If someone could clear out the 2 major obstacles - funding and information about Mars' biosphere - there'll be a spacecraft on its way to there in 2 or 3 years .
You, sir/madame, are pulling false, random information out your butt.

Extraterrestrial life was never a goal with Voyager, so the systems they shut down would have been unable to "detect life" in the first place. The data it collects is considerably more complicated and dull compared to what the public thinks it's sending. Even then, the famous "messages" to aliens inscribed by NASA were more of a gesture than anything else. Odds are astronomically low that life, humans or otherwise, will ever see Voyager again.

Establishing colonies hasn't really *been* a problem for some time. We just have absolutely no reason to do so except for scientific shits and giggles at this point.

The "biosphere" is hardly an obstacle at all, provided that it even exists. They've been testing for a martian "biosphere" since the 70's. Nothing so far (except for ice, which could easily be incidental), and probably nothing to come. Even then, if there is such data to be found, it would be more readily found by someone or something capable of critical thinking. Not happening soon.

Saying extraorbital missions "lack funding" is a bit misleading. The problem is that these missions take up obscene amounts of money. We aren't really in a space contest any more, so it's not really a priority of saving international face.

Two or three years? Try two or three *decades* if all goes well before we even start seriously entertaining the idea of colonies.