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The Engineer
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Voyager Spacecraft Crosses the Heliosheath

06/01/2005 8:23 AM

Scientists at NASA believe the Voyager 1 spacecraft, first launched in 1977, has just recently passed through the termination shock region and entered the Heliosheath, a boundary where solar winds start to give way to interstellar particles. Voyager 1, living up to it's name, has traveled roughly 8.7 billion miles from earth. That's 100x the distance between the earth and the sun. I believe that means it takes light from the sun roughly 13 hours to reach it.

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#1

Influence

06/01/2005 8:48 AM

It will be interesting to see what celstial bodies have the greatest influence on Voyager 1 as it passes through the Heliosphere. As the gravitational pull of the sun wanes, what's next?

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The Feature Creep

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#2

Last frontier

06/01/2005 8:53 AM

I wonder what it can detect in the vastness of interstellar space. It can't have to many sensors that can sense anything of value and there can't be enough solar radiation for its solar cells to do anything.

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The Engineer
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#3
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Re:Last frontier

06/01/2005 9:21 AM

Actually, it should be functional till 2020. From the article: For their original missions to Jupiter and Saturn, the Voyagers were destined for regions of space far from the Sun, so each was equipped with three radioisotope thermoelectric generators to produce electrical power for the spacecraft systems and instruments. Still operating in remote, cold and dark conditions 27 years later, the Voyagers could last until 2020. As for what it will detect. Just as you can know things about the sun by the solar winds, so too will they be able to infer things about the galaxy from the particles in interstellar space. In addition, they've already noticed some inconsistancies in where voyager is and where they thought it should be, so maybe as it gets farther away they can monitor any unusual forces (dark energy?) the spacecraft will feel. As for other gravitational forces, the closest star to us is 4 lightyears away and voyager is only about half a lightday away from the sun, so the sun's gravity should dominate for a long time to come.

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