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Old 05-11-2019, 11:14 AM
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Cool Voyager 2 has now also entered interstellar space

In a press release today from the University of Iowa, the report :-

Originally Posted by University of Iowa
Researchers at the University of Iowa report that the spacecraft Voyager 2 has entered the interstellar medium (ISM), the region of space outside the bubble-shaped boundary produced by wind streaming outward from the sun. Voyager 2, thus, becomes the second human-made object to journey out of our sun’s influence, following Voyager 1’s solar exit in 2012.

In a new study, the researchers confirm Voyager 2’s passage on Nov. 5, 2018, into the ISM by noting a definitive jump in plasma density detected by an Iowa-led plasma wave instrument on the spacecraft. The marked increase in plasma density is evidence of Voyager 2 journeying from the hot, lower-density plasma characteristic of the solar wind to the cool, higher-density plasma of interstellar space. It’s also similar to the plasma density jump experienced by Voyager 1 when it crossed into interstellar space.

“In a historical sense, the old idea that the solar wind will just be gradually whittled away as you go further into interstellar space is simply not true,” says Iowa’s Don Gurnett, corresponding author on the study, published in the journal Nature Astronomy. “We show with Voyager 2—and previously with Voyager 1—that there’s a distinct boundary out there. It’s just astonishing how fluids, including plasmas, form boundaries.”

Gurnett, professor emeritus in the UI Department of Physics and Astronomy, is the principal investigator on the plasma wave instrument aboard Voyager 2. He is also the principal investigator on the plasma wave instrument aboard Voyager 1 and authored the 2013 study published in Science that confirmed Voyager 1 had entered the ISM.

Voyager 2’s entry into the ISM occurred at 119.7 astronomical units (AU), or more than 11 billion miles from the sun. Voyager 1 passed into the ISM at 122.6 AU. The spacecraft were launched within weeks of each other in 1977, with different mission goals and trajectories through space. Yet they crossed into the ISM at basically the same distances from the sun.

That gives valuable clues to the structure of the heliosphere—the bubble, shaped much like a wind sock, created by the sun’s wind as it extends to the boundary of the solar system.
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Old 30-12-2020, 05:20 PM
cannon_gray (Cannon Gray)

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How far will Voyager 2 fly so we stop receiving data from it? We don’t have a communication array powerful enough to send or receive a clear, coherent, signal beyond the solar system, right? If I remember correctly, all signals currently being sent from Earth fully degrade into background noise after like a LY or two.
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Old 31-12-2020, 12:44 PM
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tonybarry (Tony)
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Wiki is your friend.

The main issue with communication with Voyager is power available on the spacecraft to operate instruments or power the comms system. The radio-isotope thermal generator does not have an infinite lifespan, mainly due to degradation of the thermocouples rather than half-life of the plutonium core, and is expected to be unable to power any one science instrument by about 2025.

The comms system has a 22.4W transmitter which is the highest load (but runs intermittently). The DSN uses a 400kW transmitter to communicate with Voyager on S-band.

Voyager 2 should be more than 150 AU from the sun by 2025. Thats about 0.00237 light years.


Tony Barry

Last edited by tonybarry; 31-12-2020 at 12:57 PM. Reason: Added distance info
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