The Voyager 2 probe has entered interstellar space

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The automatic spacecraft of the aerospace Agency NASA “Voyager-2” finally came out of the heliosphere – an area of near-solar space in which the plasma of the solar wind moves relative to the Sun at supersonic speed. Thus, the spacecraft became the second man-made space probe to enter interstellar space. The first, we recall, is his “twin brother”, who made this achievement in 2012.

NASA scientists report that Voyager 2 crossed the heliopause (the boundary between the solar system’s heliosphere and interstellar space) on November 5 and is now more than 17.7 billion kilometers from Earth.

“I think we’re all very excited about the fact that both voyagers have been able to work for so long that it has allowed them to make this achievement. We’ve all been waiting for this. I can not wait to get new data from both probes about how there is – outside the heliopause,” commented the curator of the Voyager projects Susanna Dodd.

In October of this year, the us aerospace Agency reported that Voyager 2 had approached the outer border of the heliopause and would soon go beyond it. At that time, the sensors of the device noted an increase in the energy of the registered charged particles. The most significant role in the proof of the output of the device from the heliosphere was played by the data obtained by the PLS (Plasma Science Experiment) tool, which determines the speed, density, temperature and pressure of the surrounding plasma environment, mainly consisting of particles of the solar wind.

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PLS-650x365 Science  The Voyager 2 probe has entered interstellar space

General view of the tool and data from its three sensors

On November 5, the Voyager-2 instrument registered a sharp decrease in the speed of solar wind particles, and later on there were no signs of the presence of the solar wind flow near the probe, which indicates that the device actually left the heliosphere border. The same thing happened with Voyager 1 in 2012.

Three other onboard scientific instruments of Voyager 2-a subsystem for the analysis of cosmic radiation, an analyzer of low – energy charged particles and a magnetometer-also received and transmitted to Earth data that indicate that the device has gone beyond the heliosphere.

The Voyager 2 probe was launched to study the Solar system in 1977. The device was able to get closer to all four giant planets and explore them, and then went to the outskirts of the Solar system. It was planned that the probe will work no more than five years, but in August 2018, its mission celebrated its 41st anniversary. Now the probe is at a distance of almost 120 astronomical units from the Earth (the most remote man-made object is Voyager 1 — the distance to the Earth is almost 145 astronomical units).

Despite the fact that both devices have left the heliosphere, technically they still remain inside the Solar system. They will be able to leave it only after they cross the Oort Cloud-the accumulation of gas, dust and other objects very far from the inner boundaries of the Solar system, which are still affected by solar gravity. And although it is not officially known how long this area may have, scientists suggest that Voyager 2 will take about three hundred years to reach the inner boundary of the Oort Cloud, and possibly about 30,000 years to fly through it.


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Updated: December 11, 2018 — 1:07 am

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