Voyager 2 Reaches Interstellar Space | Space Exploration

Rodiano Bonacci
Dicembre 15, 2018

Now, "Voyager 2" is at a distance of 18 billion kilometers from Earth and will be in touch in a few years.

Voyager 1 entered interstellar space in 2013, and we've known for months that Voyager 2 was getting close.

Scientists define the Solar System in different ways, so Prof Stone has always been very careful not to use the exact phrase "leave the Solar System" in relation to his spacecraft.

Nasa said the twin probes have left the heliosphere but have not yet left the solar system "and won't be leaving anytime soon".

The two probes have not officially exited the solar system, whose outermost region is a shell called the Oort Cloud comprised of numerous small icy objects still under the sun's gravitational influence. The spacecraft were built to last five years and conduct close-up studies of Jupiter and Saturn. In an historic feat for the mission, Voyager 2's plasma instrument, developed at MIT in the 1970s, is set to make the first direct measurements of the interstellar plasma. NASA also is preparing an additional mission - the upcoming Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP), due to launch in 2024 - to capitalize on the Voyagers' observations. Researchers are furthermore hopeful that data transmitted from Voyager 2 will make it possible to learn about the sun's influence at so far a distance from the center of our solar system.

Stone said: "Well this just contributes to the number of discoveries that Voyager is making and this is one we hoped that we would be able to do and fortunately both Voyagers were working when they reached interstellar space and that was quite an achievement". "This is what we've all been waiting for".

Now travelling more than 56,327 kilometres an hour in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus, Voyager 1 is the fastest human-made object in space.

Third, the team expected the craft to detect a sudden jump in magnetic field intensity as it crossed over out of the heliosphere, which it also saw. This is the border that NASA believes both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have sailed past.

But for now, scientists will continue to monitor the data from space, which will provide new insight on the temperature and speed of the winds in the interstellar medium, among other aspects. The twin spacecrafts were launched way back in 1977, and now NASA has revealed that Voyager-2 just achieved a milestone that only its sister ship has accomplished before it: entering interstellar space.

That doesn't mean it left the solar system, though.

"Galactic cosmic rays act as tiny messengers of our local galactic neighborhood", Georgia Denolfo, an astrophysicist at NASA who is not involved with the Voyager mission, said during the news conference.

Both probes carry a phonograph record.

At its current velocity, it will take Voyager 2 another 300 years or so to reach the inner boundary of the Oort cloud and possibly 30,000 years to move beyond it. "Outside the bubble, most of the material comes from other stars that exploded 5, 10, 15 million years ago".

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