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Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:40 PM

Voyager 1 has left the solar system, sudden changes in cosmic rays indicate

20 March 2013
AGU Release No. 13-11
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON – Thirty-five years after its launch, Voyager 1 appears to have travelled beyond the influence of the Sun and exited the heliosphere, according to a new study appearing online today.

The heliosphere is a region of space dominated by the Sun and its wind of energetic particles, and which is thought to be enclosed, bubble-like, in the surrounding interstellar medium of gas and dust that pervades the Milky Way galaxy.

On August 25, 2012, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft measured drastic changes in radiation levels, more than 11 billion miles from the Sun. Anomalous cosmic rays, which are cosmic rays trapped in the outer heliosphere, all but vanished, dropping to less than 1 percent of previous amounts. At the same time, galactic cosmic rays – cosmic radiation from outside of the solar system – spiked to levels not seen since Voyager's launch, with intensities as much as twice previous levels.

The findings have been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

"Within just a few days, the heliospheric intensity of trapped radiation decreased, and the cosmic ray intensity went up as you would expect if it exited the heliosphere," said Bill Webber, professor emeritus of astronomy at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. He calls this transition boundary the "heliocliff."

In the GRL article, the authors state: "It appears that [Voyager 1] has exited the main solar modulation region, revealing [hydrogen] and [helium] spectra characteristic of those to be expected in the local interstellar medium."


http://www.agu.org/news/press/pr_archives/2013/2013-11.shtml

64 replies, 8826 views

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Reply Voyager 1 has left the solar system, sudden changes in cosmic rays indicate (Original post)
Ichingcarpenter Mar 2013 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Mar 2013 #1
sharp_stick Mar 2013 #8
awoke_in_2003 Mar 2013 #37
Thor_MN Apr 2013 #63
awoke_in_2003 Apr 2013 #64
lastlib Mar 2013 #2
Whoopdedoo Mar 2013 #45
NutmegYankee Mar 2013 #50
Bay Boy Mar 2013 #3
corkhead Mar 2013 #7
Bay Boy Mar 2013 #9
corkhead Mar 2013 #46
Bay Boy Mar 2013 #12
Jayster84 Mar 2013 #10
Bay Boy Mar 2013 #11
Jayster84 Mar 2013 #13
DallasNE Mar 2013 #42
Bay Boy Mar 2013 #48
NutmegYankee Mar 2013 #51
DallasNE Mar 2013 #59
NutmegYankee Mar 2013 #60
UnrepentantLiberal Mar 2013 #22
Jackpine Radical Mar 2013 #26
UnrepentantLiberal Mar 2013 #28
Bay Boy Mar 2013 #34
UnrepentantLiberal Mar 2013 #35
Bay Boy Mar 2013 #40
AnotherDreamWeaver Mar 2013 #49
Purveyor Mar 2013 #52
leveymg Mar 2013 #54
pangaia Mar 2013 #57
krispos42 Mar 2013 #4
Spitfire of ATJ Mar 2013 #20
krispos42 Mar 2013 #21
sharp_stick Mar 2013 #5
Vinnie From Indy Mar 2013 #6
MNBrewer Mar 2013 #14
Spitfire of ATJ Mar 2013 #23
ladjf Mar 2013 #56
MNBrewer Mar 2013 #61
DreamGypsy Mar 2013 #15
formercia Mar 2013 #33
bananas Mar 2013 #16
AtheistCrusader Mar 2013 #17
benld74 Mar 2013 #18
sdfernando Mar 2013 #29
WillyT Mar 2013 #19
bluedigger Mar 2013 #24
meegbear Mar 2013 #30
alittlelark Mar 2013 #43
denverbill Mar 2013 #25
awoke_in_2003 Mar 2013 #36
burrowowl Mar 2013 #27
jRus61 Mar 2013 #31
Warren DeMontague Mar 2013 #32
Honest_Abe Mar 2013 #38
tibbiit Mar 2013 #55
Tikki Mar 2013 #39
NYC Liberal Mar 2013 #41
usmc03 Mar 2013 #44
AtheistCrusader Mar 2013 #47
d_r Mar 2013 #53
ladjf Mar 2013 #58
Odin2005 Apr 2013 #62

Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:43 PM

1. This is fascinating.

To think that something we humans built is that far away...

Do we have any idea how long we will continue to receive transmissions from Voyager I?

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:55 PM

8. I don't think they know

for sure but the plutonium that runs the thing is supposed to run out around 2025 I think.

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:31 PM

37. It makes me wonder...

 

how long it will be until a man made mission makes it that same distance. Too bad it won't happen in my lifetime (I am 45).

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Response to awoke_in_2003 (Reply #37)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 02:17 PM

63. Did you mean Manned? AFAIK, humans made the Voyager probes.

 

I suppose there is the possibility that we had some help from "Roswell Aliens", but I think we did most of the work. At worst, it was "Assembled on Earth"™

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Response to Thor_MN (Reply #63)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 02:25 PM

64. Sorry, damn autocorrect. ny

 

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:43 PM

2. Our species will never be the same.

We are now interstellar explorers/travelers.

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Response to lastlib (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 04:48 PM

45. Very nice comment!

I had never thought of Veeger (Star Trek episode) being interstellar. But that is quite accurate and fun to think of it that way.

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Response to lastlib (Reply #2)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 03:56 PM

50. Indeed.

I hope we can stay in contact with the probe for many more years to come.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:44 PM

3. That is so awesome to think...

...that a human made object has traveled so far!
Maybe I missed it but how long does it take for the signal to travel back to us?

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Response to Bay Boy (Reply #3)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:53 PM

7. if my math is correct, approx 40 days

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Response to corkhead (Reply #7)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 01:03 PM

9. Doesn't sound right to me...

...I'll get my calculator out and get back in a minute.

I asked Siri instead. She said 16.4 hours

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Response to Bay Boy (Reply #9)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 06:38 PM

46. well, I did say "if my math was correct"

obviously, it wasn't

11,000,000,000 / 186,282 /60 /60

I skipped minutes and went straight to hours for some unknown reason.

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Response to corkhead (Reply #7)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 01:09 PM

12. You were probably off by a little bit...

...but I'll let you prepare my taxes for me. I could use a big refund.

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Response to Bay Boy (Reply #3)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 01:05 PM

10. It's closer to about 16.5 hrs

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Response to Jayster84 (Reply #10)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 01:08 PM

11. Imagine how tiny the sun looks

like from that distance.

And the Earth? Maybe not even visible with the naked eye.

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Response to Bay Boy (Reply #11)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 01:13 PM

13. There is a program called stellarium.

The program shows tons of stars and objects. You can see the view from those objects would be. Very cool. http://www.stellarium.org/

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Response to Bay Boy (Reply #11)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:49 PM

42. Our Sun Would Still Be By Far The Brightest Object In The Sky

Stars are measured in light years from Earth and Voyager I is a mere 16.4 light hours away. Also, I would think that Earth would not be visible with the naked eye from Saturn, let alone 11 billion miles out.

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Response to DallasNE (Reply #42)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 07:05 PM

48. Speaking of the brightest object in the sky

and someone who isn't the brightest bulb in the universe.

Did you see a Facebook post where someone posted a picture the Mars Rover took of the sun low in the sky?
Someone responded something like "What do they call that sun?"

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Response to DallasNE (Reply #42)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 04:00 PM

51. I know earth shows up in camera shots from Saturn

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Response to NutmegYankee (Reply #51)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 07:24 PM

59. The Earth Should Appear As A Crescent

From Saturn for the same reason that Venus always appears as a crescent from Earth. That makes one wonder what kind of enhancement has taken place with this composite shot since the Earth is not a crescent in the photo. I know that two of Jupiter's moons can be seen from Earth with the naked eye and they are both smaller than Earth so I don't absolutely rule it out. Saturn, when it is visible is fairly faint to see but the amount of light striking it is a lot less than the light striking Earth but Earth is tiny compared to Saturn and it would be a crescent. Jump ball.

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Response to DallasNE (Reply #59)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 07:46 PM

60. I don't know when it was taken

But is it possible that earth may have been about 160-170 degrees around the sun and would therefore appear as a near circle. Saturn is blocking the sun in that shot.

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Response to Jayster84 (Reply #10)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 02:09 PM

22. 11 billion miles in 16.5 hours?

 

Stupid question: Is it traveling the speed of light?

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Reply #22)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 02:24 PM

26. No, but its signals are.

Except for a Doppler effect in the signal (slight red-shift), the speed of the transmitter is irrelevant to the speed of the signal. It took 30 years for it to cover the distance its signal covers in 16+ hours.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #26)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 02:32 PM

28. I knew the Voyagers aren't traveling at light speed.

 

I was just asking if the calculation was 16.5 hours for light to travel 11 billion miles.

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Reply #28)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:24 PM

34. Yes

yes it took 16.5 hours for the light/radio signal to travel 11 billion miles

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Response to Bay Boy (Reply #34)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:28 PM

35. Mind boggling.

 

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Reply #35)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:36 PM

40. Not so much... when I was younger

I could turn off the light in my bedroom and be under the covers before the room got dark.

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Response to Bay Boy (Reply #40)

Thu Mar 21, 2013, 01:10 AM

49. I did once tie a string to the light switch... nt

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Response to Bay Boy (Reply #3)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 04:04 PM

52. Launched in 1977! Back when we built things right, I guess. I just graduated for HS. Amazing. et

 

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Response to Bay Boy (Reply #3)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 05:33 PM

54. 35 years to travel 17 light hours. We're still a long way from being interstellar travelers.

Last edited Sun Mar 24, 2013, 10:28 PM - Edit history (1)

I remember about ten years ago taking a leisurely stroll one sunny early Spring day in the Northern Virginia woods and, suddenly, the quiet was shattered by a tremendously loud roaring noise. I looked up and there, a couple thousand feet over my head, against the purest of blue skies was the sleek white triangle of the British Air Concorde taking its final flight back to England, which it reached about three hours later.

To make interstellar flight practical for humans, we will need to find a way to travel through space that is proportionately as great a leap forward as my walking pace to supersonic flight. But, some day, I think we will. It's just in us to do that sort of thing.



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Response to leveymg (Reply #54)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 06:06 PM

57. Think Alderson Drive and the Crazy Eddie Point...

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:47 PM

4. ACHIEVEMENT

Holy shit, that is awesome!


We're on the way to the stars!

*happydance*

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Response to krispos42 (Reply #4)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 02:03 PM

20. Actually, we made it to the void between them,...barely.

 

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Response to Spitfire of ATJ (Reply #20)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 02:07 PM

21. It's only a matter of time until the Klingons find it, now.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:50 PM

5. 11 billion miles

that is an astounding number. If my quick calculations are close it would take almost 18,000 years to reach that point in your car doing 70 mph.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:53 PM

6. That is cool!

Cheers!

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 01:29 PM

14. I wonder how many of these types of things, built by other species, are wandering the universe

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Response to MNBrewer (Reply #14)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 02:11 PM

23. Probably a lot...

 

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Response to MNBrewer (Reply #14)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 06:05 PM

56. My guess is there are probably many objects in space launched by other life forms. But, it is high

unlikely that any human will ever observe one in any way. Humans will be gone from Earth within a couple hundred millions years if not a lot sooner. The Universe is a really big structure.

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Response to ladjf (Reply #56)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 10:40 PM

61. A bunch of lonely species casting bottles into the universal ocean.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 01:36 PM

15. ~Thirty-five thousand years from now, passing 'close' to Alpha-Centauri ...

... the Voyagers might have been our first visitors to the star system nearest to ours. However, the voyagers weren't aimed toward Alpha-Centauri.



The Voyagers will get 'close' to other stars, as explained here:

These two unmanned space probes – Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 – were launched in 1977. They’re now heading out of the solar system. The Voyagers aren’t aimed toward Alpha Centauri, but if they were, they’d take tens of thousands of years to get there. On the other hand, eventually, the Voyagers will pass other stars. In about 40,000 years, Voyager 1 will drift within 1.6 light-years (9.3 trillion miles) of AC+79 3888, a star in the constellation of Camelopardalis. In some 296,000 years, Voyager 2 will pass 4.3 light-years from Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. Hmm, 4.3 light-years. That’s the distance between us and Alpha Centauri.


We will have lost contact with the Voyagers long before then.

Barring any serious spacecraft subsystem failures, the Voyagers may survive until the early twenty-first century (~ 2025), when diminishing power and hydrazine levels will prevent further operation. Were it not for these dwindling consumables and the possibility of losing lock on the faint Sun, our tracking antennas could continue to "talk" with the Voyagers for another century or two!


...so the silent lumps of metal will pass by those solar systems, perhaps being slightly deflected from their courses by a weak gravitational tug.

With millions, or maybe billions, of years of continuing travel, one of the Voyagers might be drawn into a random stellar system and fall into one of its stars. Or, there is an infinitesimal chance that the spacecraft would pass close to a planet or planetesimal, possibly even colliding. If the planet is large enough to have an atmosphere, then the 700 kg mass of our Voyager could leave a brief trail of light across a sky. Will that be in a sky observed by some 'living' form? Will some fragment of the destruction of our satellite strike the ground? Will the life there discover a fragment and marvel at the odd composition of its metals?

The creatures who sent out the message will never know the answers.

Thanks for the post IC.



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Response to DreamGypsy (Reply #15)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:20 PM

33. and turn the Gold Record into a Belt Buckle

cut the rest up into Spear Heads and Weapons of Personal Destruction.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 01:42 PM

16. Hail the goer!

Gone, gone, gone beyond,
Gone beyond beyond!
Hail the goer!

http://nseo.com/remember/thebook/remember8.htm

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 01:43 PM

17. Wicked awesome.

I imagine there are considerable celebrations at NASA today.

I wonder how many of the mission specialists, designers, and technicians from the start of the mission are still alive?

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 01:58 PM

18. I thought it already came back in that Star Trek movie,,,,,

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Response to benld74 (Reply #18)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:05 PM

29. That was Voyager 6

Given that we've only launched Voyager 1 & 2, I doubt we will go back to 3,4,5, and 6....but you never know.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 02:02 PM

19. Huge K & R !!! - And To Any Benevolent Aliens Who Encounter Voyager 1...

 

HEEEEEELLLLLLLPPPPPP !!!!

That is all.




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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 02:11 PM

24. Go, V-GER, go!

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Response to bluedigger (Reply #24)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:06 PM

30. Dibs on being the Creator!!

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Response to bluedigger (Reply #24)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:51 PM

43. LOL !

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 02:13 PM

25. This has to rate as one of the biggest scientific successes of all time.

The moon landing may beat it, and the Mars Rovers is right up there, but this is an amazing machine.

It was launched the year I graduated high school and has provided pictures and data for 36 years.

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Response to denverbill (Reply #25)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:29 PM

36. I was 9 in 77...

 

that we are still getting info from these is amazing indeed.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 02:27 PM

27. Voyager is one

of the best things we've done.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:14 PM

31. Now the fun begins

I'm curious to see what Voyager I & II find once they are completely out of the protective shield of the heliosphere. Between these two spacecrafts and the new Mars rover this could be a banner year for NASA and science in general.

Go V-ger! Live Long and Prosper.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:15 PM

32. WOOOT!

That is so damn cool.

And it's got an LP player on board, which the alien hipsters will appreciate.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:34 PM

38. The pale blue dot...

Voyager one was worth the price just to provide Carl Sagan's quote:

“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam..."

From a picture that Sagan convinced NASA to have Voyager 1 take. Google it if you want to be awed.

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Response to Honest_Abe (Reply #38)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 05:45 PM

55. Sagan also goes on to say in the Pale blue dot that

There is no evidence anywhere that there is anyone coming to save us. (this is paraphrased)
tib

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:35 PM

39. Totally exciting...this is the kind of thing that gives me hope...

and it is just a machine floating around out there...

I love Science and Nature and the human imagination.


Tikki

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:44 PM

41. Not quite yet. According to NASA, it won't happen for another 14,000 years. Still in the Oort Cloud.

If we define the solar system as the sun and everything that primarily orbits the sun, however, Voyager 1 will remain within the confines of the solar system until it emerges from the Oort cloud in another 14,000 to 28,000 years


http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm?MCode=Voyager_1&Target=Beyond

It's still incredible how far it's traveled, though.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 04:00 PM

44. I've often wondered

if when we develop faster than light travel what decisions will be made, if any, in regards to these old probes. Whether to find and bring them back, check on them when a ship is 'in the neighborhood' but otherwise leave them alone or just not worry about it.

I've always had a thing for these old probes, the Voyagers specifically. Their launches and planetary flybys happened in my childhood and were a big part of my waking up to the sciences.

It's silly but knowing that they're still out there, still taking readings and reporting them home, gives me a good feeling.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 06:51 PM

47. This group has a song called 'farewell voyager' but it isnt on youtube

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 04:32 PM

53. this

"It appears that has exited the main solar modulation region, revealing and spectra characteristic of those to be expected in the local interstellar medium."


was one of my favorite pink floyd songs

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 06:06 PM

58. Voyager I will likely exist longer than the human race unless it crashes into some space object. nt

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Tue Apr 2, 2013, 12:49 AM

62. V'GER!!!

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