Voyager 1 Spacecraft About to Leave Solar System

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Voyager 1 Spacecraft About to Leave Solar System

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

Launched in 1977, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft was charged with several space-tasks prior to leaving Earth. It was to pass by Jupiter and Saturn, for instance, and send back information on what it saw. It was to keep safe its golden record, an audiovisual introduction to humanity compiled under the guidance of Dr. Carl Sagan, 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 (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

Image: NASA/JPL Caltech

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Watch out for the Caretaker!

please please please please tell me they will find Thessia

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

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

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

The Voyager needs its own cheer leading squad imo.

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!

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.

a long journey indeed.


and with 30 year old tech. this IS impressive.

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.

teh_Canape:
please please please please tell me they will find Thessia

not if the reapers find it first :P

Terminate421:
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.

image

yes. they will come in "peace"

rhizhim:

teh_Canape:
please please please please tell me they will find Thessia

not if the reapers find it first :P

Terminate421:
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.

image

yes. they will come in "peace"

Well, I meant the solar system, most likely, we'd see more of this:

image

"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 .

Godspeed you little robot bastard.

Godspeed.

Send pics!

Oh shit, First Contact War will be annny day now..

Matthi205:
"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.

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

hoo boy.

undeadsuitor:
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.

Matthi205:
"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.

I hope, just as it passes into interstellar space, they will power on the camera one last time, and turn it homeward for one last picture. That would be nice.

Who says the onset of total destruction is a bad thing, eh?

I mean, it was the cold war that started the dick waving contest. It was that international dick waving contest that got us to build spacecraft. And now one of them is on the move, heading off into space.

Its strange to think that one day that might be the only trace left of humanity. I mean, if we were to end up annihilating all life on earth with total thermonuclear war, which we are still more then capable of doing, that little ship may end up the only trace of humanity in the entire Universe.

Hundreds, thousands, millions of years from now, something intelligent may come across it or perhaps just a scrap of it and wonder. That craft might become the drop of water used to infer humanity (+1 if you get the reference. It is obscure.)

I, for one, think we might enter a true space age at some point. Hopefully within my lifetime. I mean, Planetary Resources Inc is going to start mining asteroids at some point, with the dosh created by that you never know, a moon-base or a mars-colony could be on the cards (Assuming either would be commercially viable).

T-300 years until it merges with an alien probe, kills a Klingon that looks an awful lot like Christopher Lloyd, and eats a descendant of Stephen Collins, along with some weird bald chick.

T-304 years until "KHAAAAAAAAAAN!"

I know which one _I'M_ waiting for...

RazadaMk2:

I mean, it was the cold war that started the dick waving contest. It was that international dick waving contest that got us to build spacecraft. And now one of them is on the move, heading off into space.

To say the Cold War was all about "international dick-waving" is like calling World War I a spitting contest. It's a ridiculous generalization propogated by laziness and ignorance; encouraging the metaphor really is a great disservice to understanding the events of the conflict so that future generations are able to more aptly cope with a similar situation.

PlaidHatter:

RazadaMk2:

I mean, it was the cold war that started the dick waving contest. It was that international dick waving contest that got us to build spacecraft. And now one of them is on the move, heading off into space.

To say the Cold War was all about "international dick-waving" is like calling World War I a spitting contest. It's a ridiculous generalization propogated by laziness and ignorance; encouraging the metaphor really is a great disservice to understanding the events of the conflict so that future generations are able to more aptly cope with a similar situation.

I am a student of both history and cultural history, about to major in Sociology and minor in Politics.

I know the cold war was more complex then an international dick waving contest. I know the cold war was not by any means cold. Thousands died. And I also know the cold war is, to a degree, far from over. Both America and Russia still have the capability to wipe out life on earth and hell, both America and Russia still have their nukes pointed at each other, early warning systems in place and arctic subs tooling around the Oceans with rather impresive arsenals.

However, I did not want to write a small essay. I had no intention of analysing the entire cold war, nor the socio-political explanations behind the giant money sinks that was the space race. For the layman, the cold war was America and Russia flexing their industrial and military muscles.

So I referred to the cold war as a "Dick Waving Contest". Get off your high horse, bro.

rhizhim:

image

yes. they will come in "peace"

Dont worry, we know what to do

OT: So when you say soon you mean in the next few years correct? yay, I'll live to see interstellar travel! Kinda!

Awesome, what we can achieve. It's finally heading out for real... Good luck, little Voyager!

This is really awesome! :D

One of Humankind's finest achievements. Trek on satellite dude!

We'll find out more about Mars' biosphere when MSL lands in two months.

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

hoo boy.

Damn it! I wanted to make the Star Trek: The Motion Picture reference.

Yeah, 30 year old tech still works. If that probe launched today everything would expire in 5 years once the warranty was up :)

Incredible that both Voyagers still work. See you space cowboy!

nikki191:
its been going for decades and still hasnt had a RROD :D

and less computing power than most cell phones to boot.

which is what I am going to start complaining about, Voyager 1 has been powered on since 1977....

and yet my computer can only hold a 2 hour charge on it's battery?

oh well, at least we have this to remember Voyager by:

image

RazadaMk2:

PlaidHatter:

RazadaMk2:

I mean, it was the cold war that started the dick waving contest. It was that international dick waving contest that got us to build spacecraft. And now one of them is on the move, heading off into space.

To say the Cold War was all about "international dick-waving" is like calling World War I a spitting contest. It's a ridiculous generalization propogated by laziness and ignorance; encouraging the metaphor really is a great disservice to understanding the events of the conflict so that future generations are able to more aptly cope with a similar situation.

I am a student of both history and cultural history, about to major in Sociology and minor in Politics.

I know the cold war was more complex then an international dick waving contest. I know the cold war was not by any means cold. Thousands died. And I also know the cold war is, to a degree, far from over. Both America and Russia still have the capability to wipe out life on earth and hell, both America and Russia still have their nukes pointed at each other, early warning systems in place and arctic subs tooling around the Oceans with rather impresive arsenals.

However, I did not want to write a small essay. I had no intention of analysing the entire cold war, nor the socio-political explanations behind the giant money sinks that was the space race. For the layman, the cold war was America and Russia flexing their industrial and military muscles.

So I referred to the cold war as a "Dick Waving Contest". Get off your high horse, bro.

My bad. Finally emigrated from some really angry message boards for good (where this sort of generalization is practically cited by ignoramuses), so I'm still trying to dial it back. Didn't mean to twist the knife that wasn't there to begin with. Again, my apologies.

Kalezian:

nikki191:
its been going for decades and still hasnt had a RROD :D

and less computing power than most cell phones to boot.

which is what I am going to start complaining about, Voyager 1 has been powered on since 1977....

and yet my computer can only hold a 2 hour charge on it's battery?

oh well, at least we have this to remember Voyager by:

image

I hate that image. Really gives me a sinking feeling knowing how insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things.

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