The Voyager 2 probe has reached interstellar space
Porównn the data from the rótive instrumentóin installed on board the spacecraft, NASA scientists have determined that the Voyager 2 probe crossed the outer edge of the heliosphere on November 5. This boundary, called the heliopause, is where theóhe solar wind comes into contact with high-energy particles from interstellar space.
The probe’s twin design, the Voyager 1 spacecraft, crossed this boundary in 2012, but Voyager 2 has the advantage of having a working instrument on board thatóry will provide first-of-its-kind observations of the nature of the heliopause – the gateway to interstellar space.
Voyager 2 is now just over 18 billionóin one kilometerów from Earth. Mission operators can still communicate with the probe, although a message from Earth to Voyager 2 runs 16.5 hours.
Heliosphere, space, którą has just left the Voyager 2 probe, a kind of magnetic „bubble” produced by the sun, który surrounds and protects our solar system. This „bubble” matter constantly ejected by the Sun covers all the planets and most of the minor bodies in the Solar System and protects them from harmful cosmic radiation by blocking high-energy particles, które formed in interstellar space.
At the boundary of the heliosphere, the solar wind loses its speed, and wind pressureóin the galactic begins to outweigh the solar wind pressure. This boundary is precisely the heliopause. This is where the solar wind collides with cosmic rays. However, not all particles from interstellar space are stopped. Some of them penetrate into our planetary system.
The most convincing evidence for Voyager 2’s exit from the heliosphere comes from the Plasma Science Experiment (PLS) instrument, whichóry unfortunately stopped working on the Voyager 1 probe in 1980, long before the probe crossed the heliopause. Until recently, the space surrounding Voyager 2 was filled with headównly plasma coming from our sun. This so-called. solar wind creates heliosphere.
The PLS, after more than 40 years of operation, can still detect the speed, density, temperature, pressure and flow of the solar wind. It informed the controlleróIn a mission with a rapid decrease in the speed of solar wind particles, które took place on November 5. Since then, he has not observed any solar wind flow in the environment wokó³ probe. Therefore, NASA researchers are convinced that the probe has left the heliosphere.
Oprócz data from PLS, Voyager science team members also have data from three other instrumentsóin the onboard – Cosmic-Ray Subsystem (CRS) detector, Low-Energy Charged Particle Subsystem (LECP) detector and magnetometer. Analysis of these data róalso confirms that Voyager 2 has crossed the heliopause.
– From the instrumentów aboard the Voyager 2 probe, there is still much to learn about the region of interstellar space just beyond the heliopause, said Ed Stone, a Voyager project scientist at Caltech.
Both Voyager probes provide the first insight into how our heliosphere interacts with the solid interstellar wind. Their observations are complemented by data from the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), a satellite thatórego’s task is to make the first map of the areasów lying at the boundary of the heliosphere. NASA also has plans for an IMAP (Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe) mission, której the goal will be to study howób particles arriving from interstellar space interact with the heliosphere. The launch is expected to take place in 2024.
– Voyager has a special place in our heliophysics fleet. Our research begins with the Sun and extends to everything the solar wind touches. The fact that the Voyager probes are sending back information about the edge where the Sun’s influence ends gives us unprecedented insight into truly uncharted territory, said NASA’s Nicola Fox.
While the probes have left the heliosphere, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have not yet left the solar system, and that won’t happen soon. The boundary of our planetary system is believed to be beyond the outer edge of the Oort Cloud – a cloud of dustów, ice and asteroids orbiting the Sun at distances between 300,000 and 100,000. astronomical units (one astronomical unit is approximately 150 millionóin a kilometerów – distance, whichóra separates the Earth from the Sun). Objects in the Oort Cloud, despite their distance, are still under the influence of our star’s gravity. It will take about 300 years for Voyager 2 to reach the inner edge of the Oort Cloud and probably another 30,000 to fly beyond the cloud.
– I think we are all happy and relieved that the Voyager probes have been working long enough to pass this milestone – admitted Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. – We’ve all been waiting for this. Now we wait to see what we will be able to learn from probes beyond the heliopause – added.
The farthest and fastest spacecraft is currently Voyager 1. It is currently about 140 astronomical units from our planet – that’s more than 20 billionóin kilometerów. The Voyager 1 probe was launched from Earth in early September 1977. The Voyager 2 probe flew into space a dozen days earlier, but Voyager 1 overtook its twin and reached the edge of the heliosphere first.
The mission launched from Earth to study Jupiter and Saturn and their moonsów. After the task was completed, the mission’s objective was changed to studying the areaóin the heliosphere. Researchers predict that the probes will have enough energy to function and communicate with Earth by about 2025.