Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Voyager 1 at the heliosheath

  1. May 26, 2005 #1


    User Avatar

    The Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched in 1977 to explore the planets, is now agreed by scientists to have entered the heliosheath at the edge of the solar system 8.7 billion miles (14 billion kilometers) from the Sun. In a few years, Voyager 1 is expected to become the first man-made object to cross into interstellar space.

    "Voyager has entered the final lap on its race to the edge of interstellar space, as it begins exploring the solar system's final frontier," said Dr. Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology.

    As long ago as 2003, scientists thought Voyager 1 was entering the termination shock region of the solar system, but there was some dispute. The termination shock is the area preceding the heliosheath, where the electrically charged solar wind is slowed and concentrated by contact with interstellar gas. The heliosheath is considered the outer edge of our solar system. Around it is the heliopause, a cosmic bubble where the pressure of solar wind and interstellar wind is in balance.

    The solar system as a whole is in orbit around the center of the Milky Way galaxy. As it plows through clouds of interstellar gas and dust, a bow shock (I'm pretty good with the bow staff.) forms ahead of it, which has been compared to the turbulence a ship creates as it sails through ocean currents. Voyager 1 is still operational and sending back reams of scientific data. Already notable for more than 27 years of successful operation, Voyager 1 is projected to continue operating on its plutonium power source until 2020.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 26, 2005 #2
    pretty sweet man
  4. May 26, 2005 #3
    So they decided not to trash the voyeger probes? Or is that thing still going on?
  5. May 26, 2005 #4


    User Avatar

    They're not really using them for anything, just lettin them go so they can tell people NASA shot something 100 billion miles away. Besides, what would they do? Bring them back?
  6. May 26, 2005 #5
    They were some of the first ones to bring us those awesome pics of Jupiter and Saturn (Uranus and Neptune too IIRC) back in the 70's & 80's. They don't have and engine on board, so they pretty much just did flybys of the planets, which naturally sent them heading out of the solar system after they got done. They've been monitoring them ever since because, well, why not? They're out there still transmitting data, so you might as well get all you can.

    BTW, the RTG is expected to be dead in 2020? With a half-life of 78 years (Pu-238), I would have thought you could get more than 50 years from it. Obviously you couldn't get full power for that long, but maybe just enough to drive a few sensors and leave the rest powered off. Ah well, I guess in any case 50 years isn't too shabby. Try and get *that* from a NiCad battery.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook