Author Topic: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?  (Read 1423 times)

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Offline Buster's Uncle

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Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« on: October 09, 2012, 06:18:56 PM »
Quote
Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
By Natalie Wolchover | LiveScience.com – 3 hrs ago.. .

 
It will be another giant leap for mankind when NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft becomes the first manmade object to venture past the solar system's edge and into the uncharted territory of interstellar space. But did this giant leap already occur?
 
New data from the spacecraft indicate that the historic moment of its exit from the solar system might have come and gone two months ago. Scientists are crunching one more set of numbers to find out for sure.
 
Voyager 1, which left Earth on Sept. 5, 1977, has since sped to a distance of 11.3 billion miles (18.2 billion kilometers) from the sun, making it the farthest afield of any manmade object. (It has 2 billion miles on its twin, Voyager 2, which took a longer route through the solar system.) Still phoning home (via radio transmissions) after 35 years, the Voyagers are the longest operating spacecraft in history.
 
For two years now, data beamed back to Earth by Voyager 1 has hinted at its close approach to the edge of the solar system, a pressure boundary called the heliopause. At this boundary, the bubble of electrically charged particles blowing outward from the sun (called the heliosphere) exactly counterbalances the inward pressure of the gas and dust from interstellar space, causing equilibrium between the two. But scientists have had trouble figuring out what, exactly, happens at or near this boundary — making it hard to tell whether Voyager has crossed it.
 
In 2010, Voyager passed the point where the solar wind, a stream of charged particles flowing outward from the sun, seemed to reach the end of its leash. The probe's detectors indicated that the wind had suddenly died down, and all the surrounding solar particles were at a standstill.
 
This "stagnation region" came as a surprise. Scientists had expected to see the solar wind veer sideways when it met the heliopause, like water hitting a wall, rather than screech to a halt. As Voyager scientists explained in a paper published last month in Nature, the perplexing collapse of the solar wind at the edge of the heliosphere left them without a working model for the outer solar system.
 
"There is no well-established criteria of what constitutes exit from the heliosphere," Stamatios Krimigis, a space scientist at Johns Hopkins University and NASA principal investigator in charge of the Voyager spacecraft's Low-Energy Charged Particle instrument, told Life's Little Mysteries. "All theoretical models have been found wanting."
 
However, Ed Roelof, also a space scientist at Johns Hopkins who works with Voyager 1 data, said that in any model of the heliopause, an object exiting through it should experience three changes: a sharp rise in the number of collisions with cosmic rays (high-energy particles from space), a dramatic drop in the number of collisions with charged particles from the sun, and a change in the direction of the surrounding magnetic field.
 
Based on two of those criteria, Voyager 1 looks as if it passed through the heliopause at the end of the summer. Since May, the spacecraft has experienced a steady rise in the number of collisions with particles whose energies are greater than 70 Mega-electron-volts, indicating they are probably cosmic rays emanating from supernova explosions far beyond the solar system. The level of these cosmic ray collisions jumped significantly in late August.
 
As first reported by Houston Chronicle science blogger Eric Berger, that jump coincided with another change in late August: The spacecraft also experienced a dramatic drop in the number of collisions with low-energy particles, which probably originated from the sun. [See graph]

 In short, in late August, cosmic ray collisions sharply rose, and solar particle collisions sharply fell: two indicators of a transition through the heliopause.
 
"Most scientists involved with Voyager 1 would agree that [these two criteria] have been sufficiently satisfied," said Ed Roelof, also a space scientist at Johns Hopkins who works with Voyager 1 data.
 
To officially declare Voyager's crossing, the scientists need to check if the third condition holds. "Point 3 (the change in magnetic field direction to that of the interstellar field beyond the influence of the sun) is critical because, even though there is debate among astrophysicists as to what direction the field will lie in, it seems unlikely that it is the direction that we have been seeing at Voyager 1 throughout the most recent years," Roelof wrote in an email.
 
"That is why we are all awaiting the analysis of the most recent magnetic field measurements from Voyager 1.  We will be looking for the expected change to a new and steady direction.  That would drop the third independent piece of evidence into place — if indeed that's what will be seen," he said.
 
The scientists could not say when the magnetic field analysis would be finished. But when it is — and if it also indicates that the field's direction recently underwent a change — the world will know. "Once we have a consensus within the team we will inform NASA for a proper announcement," Krimigis said.
http://news.yahoo.com/did-nasas-voyager-1-spacecraft-just-exit-solar-133418667.html

Offline Green1

Re: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2012, 05:32:01 AM »
The more interesting thing is this. When I was a subcontracter for the VA administration I had free access to research papers through a laptop while I worked a "restraint free room" for vets as a PCT. Many of these paper not available to the public.

There was only one paper that talked about the Oort cloud. Supposedly, it extentds 1 LY to 2 LY. BUT Rigel Kentaurus (Alpha Centauri A + B) may have it's own. Since those are the same size as our star... there may be interlap. 

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2012, 05:38:17 AM »
Old news.  I was reading speculation about that 30 years ago.

Offline Green1

Re: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2012, 05:45:23 AM »
Where is this speculation? Apart from that paper which was only able to be acessed from government laptops, I have heard nothing and a google search reveals only Sedna orbital questions but nothing dealing with Rigel Kentaurus.

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2012, 06:03:58 AM »
I don't read the journals.  Hard science fiction authors have been asserting that it was possibly the case -according to hard science, and they DO read the journals- in non-fiction articles for forever.

Offline Green1

Re: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2012, 06:09:12 AM »
yeah.. speculation.. but no one wants to go there for some reason. Fortunately in Louisiana, I am near Michaud (pronounce Meee- shoo). And, LSU was once run by a former NSA admin. Maybe I should start asking questions.

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2012, 06:11:33 AM »
Hmm.  I met a former NASA engineer at the next-to-last ren fair I did, which was in Lousianna.  Is it something in the (swamp) water?

Offline Green1

Re: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2012, 06:20:22 AM »
No.. we just live the right way. Us from New Orleans contribute tons to science. Hell, we are building Orion here. How's that for a expendable society of swamp rats? Most of us here are free thinkers and an aborration of the south. We are friggin wierd.

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2012, 06:23:04 AM »
You're closer to southern than Floridians, but that sure ain't sayin' much.

Offline Green1

Re: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2012, 06:30:51 AM »
Did you DRINK THE WATER? I mean tap water. If you drink the tap water, you WILL return. This is the mythology of New Orleans. You will know what it means to miss this place, for of many major cities, it is beautiful with a colorful history. Songs talk of this fact. It is a small town, but large.  I am accepted, no matter who i am.

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2012, 12:03:15 PM »
I'm sure I drank the water.  I haven't been tempted to return, thus far.

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2012, 09:22:05 PM »
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We are friggin wierd.

Guess I need to move down there.   

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Did NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System?
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2012, 09:52:26 PM »
Uno, you'd fit in so well down there that you'd be in danger of missing being the wierdo.

 

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