Voyager 2 probe which launched 42 years ago reaches interstellar space

Rodiano Bonacci
Novembre 6, 2019

The heliosphere and very local interstellar medium showing where Voyager 1 & 2 passed through.

Before the Voyager missions, scientists predicted the solar bubble just sort of dissolved into interstellar space as you ventured farther and farther from the sun. However, a plasma-measuring instrument on Voyager 1 had been broken so that the probe couldn't collect essential knowledge concerning the transition from the solar system into interstellar space. Voyager 1, the faster of the two probes, is now over 13.6 billion miles (22 billion kilometers) from the Sun, while Voyager 2 is 11.3 billion miles (18.2 billion kilometers) from the Sun. According to the scientists, the leap was detected by one of the instruments installed in the Voyager 2 and made its own path "from the hot, lower-density plasma to the cool, higher density plasma of interstellar space". In doing so, the probe crossed a boundary area called the "heliopause".

Voyager 2's scientific instruments detected abrupt differences in plasma density and magnetic particles upon crossing the heliopause, the researchers said. This was incidental the Voyager probes had been created to research the outer planets but were specified gravitational boosts that in the end despatched them rushing off quick adequate to include three moments the length from the Earth to the Sunshine just about every 12 months. They are established through NASA's Deep Space Network. To understand what's happening at and near this boundary, they study the information the Voyager probes collected about magnetic fields and charged particles on either side of the heliopause. The changes confirmed that the probe had entered a new region of space. In each of those cases, the solar influence recovered, with cosmic rays dropping back onto their gradual trend and solar particles returning to their normal levels. This is considered the crossing point to interstellar space. These corresponded to two dips in the depth of decreased-energy billed particles from the Sunshine, suggesting that some of the interstellar medium was leaking into the Solar Procedure.

The data indicates that there's a previously unknown boundary layer just beyond the heliopause. Outside the heliosphere, this solar plasma (solar wind ) gives way to the interstellar plasma permeating Milky Way. The heliosphere is a little like a comet's coma, with a nose and a tail as the entire Solar System orbits the galactic centre. As they study other stars with exoplanets around them, what they learn now could be applied to other systems they discover. Yet when Voyager 2 crossed this thin surface, "there was essentially no change" in the direction of the field--something Voyager 1 observed as well, says Leonard Burlaga from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and lead author for this paper. The researchers say these points are nearly at the same distance from the Sun, indicating a spherical front to the bubble - "like a blunt bullet", according to Prof Gurnett. With a supersonic wind of ionised plasma, the Sun carves out a bubble of space around the Solar System.

In November 2018, NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft became only the second human-made object to cross the outer edge of the Sun's heliosphere, the bubble of space filled by the solar wind. "They are of their grasp orbits around the galaxy for 5 billion years or longer, and the probability of them working into something else is almost zero". Voyager 2, on the other hand, is located closer to the flank, and this region appears to be more porous than the region where Voyager 1 is located. The team hopes the Voyagers will reach the distant point where space is undisturbed by the heliosphere before they run out of fuel. Both probes are now more than 11 billion miles from the sun, which makes the heaters crucial for maintaining functions.

The thrusters on both spacecraft are also degrading. While, Voyager 1 entered the ISM at 122.6 AU. It's also using more power, so engineers turned off a heater for the Cosmic Ray Subsystem.

Voyager 2 has just sent back data proving that it has also crossed the heliopause, and it had a fully functional plasma spectrometer.

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