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Voyager 1 and 2 still alive?

  1. Oct 15, 2007 #1
    I heard that we are still receiving data from the voyager missions. Are the results available publicly? If so, where can I find the latest photos?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 15, 2007 #2
    There are no current photos from the Voyagers, for the simple reason that there's not really anything for them to be photographing. They're current headed towards interstellar space. The data we are receiving from them these days mostly relates to measurements of the solar wind.
     
  4. Oct 15, 2007 #3
    You mean to say that at over 100 AU there's just nothing worth looking at? What then is the future of Voyager?
     
  5. Oct 15, 2007 #4
    The universe as a whole is pretty empty of large bodies. So, I suppose it's possible that one of the Voyagers might pass within sight of something interesting. But, that should be so rare that it's just not worth using up any memory to keep taking pictures. And, besides, the bandwidth for data transmission back to Earth these days is quite small.

    As for the future, the Voyager probes will drift off into interstellar space. At least Voyager 1, and possibly Voyager 2 as well, has already passed through what's called the termination shock - the point at which the speed of the solar wind drops to below the speed of sound in the interstellar medium. At some point over the next few years, they should pass the heliopause, which is where the solar wind is finally stopped by interstellar winds. And, at some point after that, they'll pass the bow shock, where the interstellar winds go sub-sonic due to the interaction with the solar wind. Once they're passed that, they're basically outside the influence of the sun and they'll drift on into the galaxy at large.

    Current estimates suggest that the probes ought to have enough power to continue returning scientific data for another 13 years or so, although their increasing distance makes it progressively harder to receive the data.

    Once their power runs out, they'll be little more than space debris drifting about the galaxy.
     
  6. Oct 16, 2007 #5
    Just for those interested, Voyager 2 very recently crossed the termination.
     
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