Archive

Archive for the ‘Voyager’ Category

NASA’S Voyager 1 Cruising On A ‘Magnetic Highway’

December 3, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has encountered a new region on the outskirts of our solar system that appears to be a magnetic highway for charged particles. Scientists believe this is the final region Voyager has to cross before reaching interstellar space, or the space between stars.

Scientists call this region the magnetic highway because our sun’s magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines. The connection has allowed lower-energy charged particles that originate from inside our heliosphere – the bubble of charged particles the sun blows around itself – to zoom out, and higher-energy particles from outside to stream in.

Before entering this region, the charged particles bounced around in all directions, as if trapped on local roads inside the heliosphere. Thinking the particles might be colliding against the gaseous boundary of the solar system, scientists operating Voyager’s low-energy charged particle detector wondered if the spacecraft had reached the last stop before ­– or even crossed into ­– interstellar space. Data indicating that the direction of the magnetic field lines has not changed, however, leads the Voyager team to infer that this region is still inside the solar bubble.

Full Story: http://www.jhuapl.edu/newscenter/pressreleases/2012/121203.asp
Also: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-381

Advertisements

Voyager Observes Magnetic Field Fluctuations In Heliosheath

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment

As they near the outer reaches of the solar system, for the past several years the two Voyager spacecraft have been sending back observations that challenge scientists’ views of the physics at the edge of the heliosphere, the bubble created by charged particles flowing outward from the Sun. A new study looks at magnetic field fluctuations and cosmic ray intensity observed by Voyager I.

In 2004, Voyager I crossed the termination shock, the region where the solar wind begins to slow as it interacts with the interstellar medium. Just outside the termination shock is the heliosheath, where the solar wind continues to slow, reaching a stagnation region where solar wind speed drops to zero. Burlaga and Ness studied the magnetic field observed by Voyager I during 2010, when the spacecraft was moving through this stagnation region. Their analysis shows that magnetic field fluctuations outside the termination shock were primarily compressive fluctuations in field strength along the direction of the motion of the planets around the Sun. The fluctuations were observed on time scales of several hours.

Full Story: http://www.agu.org/news/press/jhighlight_archives/2012/2012-10-29.shtml#one

To Planets And Beyond: Voyager Celebrates 35 Years

September 5, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory celebrates the 35-anniversary of the Voyager mission, whose twin spacecraft conducted a Grand Tour of the planets and are now headed into interstellar space. A panel discussion in JPL’s von Karman auditorium will highlight insider stories about designing the planetary tour, Voyager’s post-launch “anxiety attack,” Voyager 2’s encounter with Neptune, and the Golden Record.

Full Story and Video: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

Voyager At 35: Break On Through To The Other Side

August 20, 2012 1 comment

Voyager 2 was launched on August 20, 1977, from the NASA Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida, propelled into space on a Titan/Centaur rocket. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

Thirty-five years ago today, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft, the first Voyager spacecraft to launch, departed on a journey that would make it the only spacecraft to visit Uranus and Neptune and the longest-operating NASA spacecraft ever. Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, that launched 16 days later on Sept. 5, 1977, are still going strong, hurtling away from our sun. Mission managers are eagerly anticipating the day when they break on through to the other side – the space between stars.

“Even 35 years on, our rugged Voyager spacecraft are poised to make new discoveries as we eagerly await the signs that we’ve entered interstellar space,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “Voyager results turned Jupiter and Saturn into full, tumultuous worlds, their moons from faint dots into distinctive places, and gave us our first glimpses of Uranus and Neptune up-close. We can’t wait for Voyager to turn our models of the space beyond our sun into the first observations from interstellar space.”

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-249

Signs Changing Fast For Voyager At Solar System Edge


Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Two of three key signs of changes expected to occur at the boundary of interstellar space have changed faster than at any other time in the last seven years, according to new data from NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft.

For the last seven years, Voyager 1 has been exploring the outer layer of the bubble of charged particles the sun blows around itself. In one day, on July 28, data from Voyager 1’s cosmic ray instrument showed the level of high-energy cosmic rays originating from outside our solar system jumped by five percent. During the last half of that same day, the level of lower-energy particles originating from inside our solar system dropped by half. However, in three days, the levels had recovered to near their previous levels.

A third key sign is the direction of the magnetic field, and scientists are eagerly analyzing the data to see whether that has, indeed, changed direction. Scientists expect that all three of these signs will have changed when Voyager 1 has crossed into interstellar space. A preliminary analysis of the latest magnetic field data is expected to be available in the next month.

Full Story:

Data From NASA’s Voyager 1 Point to Interstellar Future

June 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Data  from NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft indicate that the venerable deep-space explorer  has encountered a region in space where the intensity of charged particles from  beyond our solar system has markedly increased. Voyager scientists looking at  this rapid rise draw closer to an inevitable but historic conclusion – that  humanity’s first emissary to interstellar space is on the edge of our solar  system.
“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,” said 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. It is  very exciting. We are approaching the solar system’s frontier.”
The  data making the 16-hour-38 minute, 11.1-billion-mile (17.8-billion-kilometer),  journey from Voyager 1 to antennas of NASA’s Deep Space Network on Earth detail  the number of charged particles measured by the two High Energy telescopes  aboard the 34-year-old spacecraft. These energetic particles were generated  when stars in our cosmic neighborhood went supernova.
“From  January 2009 to January 2012, there had been a gradual increase of about 25  percent in the amount of galactic cosmic rays Voyager was encountering,”  said Stone. “More recently, we have seen very rapid escalation in that  part of the energy spectrum. Beginning on May 7, the cosmic ray hits have increased  five percent in a week and nine percent in a month.”

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-177

NASA’s Voyager Hits New Region at Solar System Edge

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region between our solar system and interstellar space. Data obtained from Voyager over the last year reveal this new region to be a kind of cosmic purgatory. In it, the wind of charged particles streaming out from our sun has calmed, our solar system’s magnetic field is piled up, and higher-energy particles from inside our solar system appear to be leaking out into interstellar space.

“Voyager tells us now that we’re in a stagnation region in the outermost layer of the bubble around our solar system,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “Voyager is showing that what is outside is pushing back. We shouldn’t have long to wait to find out what the space between stars is really like.”

Although Voyager 1 is about 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the sun, it is not yet in interstellar space. In the latest data, the direction of the magnetic field lines has not changed, indicating Voyager is still within the heliosphere, the bubble of charged particles the sun blows around itself. The data do not reveal exactly when Voyager 1 will make it past the edge of the solar atmosphere into interstellar space, but suggest it will be in a few months to a few years.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-372