NASA Voyager 2 enters interstellar space after years of cosmic sightseeing

NASA Voyager 2 enters interstellar space after years of cosmic sightseeing

Kenneth Drake
December 11, 2018

The Voyager 2 probe has left the protective bubble around the sun and is flying through interstellar space, NASA says.

Nasa wrote: 'In about 40,000 years, Voyager 2 will pass 1.7 light-years (9.7 trillion miles) from the star Ross 248 and in about 296,000 years, it will pass 4.3 light-years (25 trillion miles) from Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

Voyager 2 is officially Nasa's longest-running mission. At Voyager 2's enormous distance from the sun, it took 16-and-a-half hours for the data to make its way back to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The spacecraft is now beyond the outer boundary of the heliosphere, some 18 billion kilometres from Earth. Scientists were able to use data from an instrument on Voyager 2 called the Plasma Science Experiment to detect a sharp drop in the speed of solar particles around the spacecraft on November 5, meaning that it had left the heliosphere and entered an area with no solar wind flow.

The twin probes have left the heliosphere, but have not yet left the solar system, "and won't be leaving anytime soon", Nasa said in a statement. And the JPL itself marks the end of the solar system at the edge of the sun's gravitational influence, on the outer boundaries of the Oort Cloud.

The width of Oort Cloud is estimated to begin at about 1,000 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun and to extend to about 100,000 AU. In 2012, Voyager 1 also detected a steep decline in solar wind particle counts, signifying that it was the first of the pair to reach interstellar space.

Rep. Stewart Downplays Saudi Journalist's Murder: 'Journalists Disappear All Over'
Following the November 28 briefing, Pompeo and Mattis told reporters there was no direct evidence tying MBS to Khashoggi's murder. Last week, senators received a briefing from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Voyager spacecraft, launched as five-year missions, have now been operating for over four decades and continue to transmit valuable data back to Earth, and have even been remotely upgraded along the way. "This is what we've all been waiting for". NASA said that since the spacecraft could last billions of years, they may one day "be the only traces of human civilization". "So it's especially exciting to be able to think that we will be having a mission in the very same space that I have been studying, and many others, from afar". This led scientists to conclude that the probe has left the Solar System.

The twin Voyagers launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 1977, and zipped by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

The Voyager probes are the only spacecraft capable of taking "in-situ" measurements of this enigmatic region, measurements that are going to be used to complement observations by other missions located a little closer to home.

Each spacecraft carries a Golden Record of Earth sounds, pictures and messages, which aims to serve as evidence of Earth's civilisation. "Your smartphone has 200,000 times more memory than what the Voyager spacecraft have", she added.

The bubble which surrounds our solar system is called the heliosphere and is formed by the solar wind.