By Alex Bellury, Contributing writer
Monday, December 10, 2018
(NEW FRONTIER NEWS) – NASA’s Voyager 2 has passed the heliosphere – the region of space in which the sun can send out solar winds- and has entered interstellar space. Voyager 2 is 11 billion miles away from earth, becoming the second space probe to enter interstellar space, right after Voyager 1 in 2012.
Back in October, NASA suspected that this might happen, as the space probe detected an increase in cosmic rays, just as Voyager 1 did before entering interstellar space. But this time, the Voyager 1 brought a functional Plasma Science Experiment.
The Plasma Science Experiment is able to detect solar winds, making it easier to tell whether or not it exited our solar system or not. November 5th, Voyager 2 detected a sharp drop in the speed of solar wind particles, and since then, it hasn’t measured any solar wind flow at all, which makes it evident that it’s escaping the sun’s influence.
This is a significant difference from the year it took for scientists to confirm Voyager 1 had entered interstellar space.
Voyager 2 also has three other onboard instruments; the cosmic ray subsystem, the low energy charged particle probe, and the magnetometer. They recorded data that fit with what would be expected when exiting the heliosphere.
“I think we’re all happy and relieved that the Voyager probes have both operated long enough to make it past this milestone,” Voyager Project Manager Suzanne Dodd said in a statement.” This is what we’ve all been waiting for. Now we’re looking forward to what we’ll be able to learn from having both probes outside the heliopause.”
Voyager 2 was originally launched in 1977. Both Voyagers were meant to go for 5 years to observe Jupiter and Saturn but kept on going to this day.
“Voyager has a very special place for us in our heliophysics fleet,” said Nicola Fox, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA. “Our studies start at the sun and extend out to everything the solar wind touches. To have the Voyagers sending back information about the edge of the sun’s influence gives us an unprecedented glimpse of truly uncharted territory.”
Associated Press. (December 2018). Voyager 2 probe moves into interstellar space. CBS News. The United States. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/voyager-2-probe-moves-into-interstellar-space/
Bowler, Jacinta. (December 2018). Rumour Has It NASA Might Be About to Announce Huge Voyager 2 News. Science Alert. Australia. https://www.sciencealert.com/nasa-might-be-about-to-confirm-that-voyager-2-has-reached-interstellar-space
Locklear, Mallory. (December 2018). NASA’s Voyager 2 probe has entered interstellar space. Engadget. The United States. https://www.engadget.com/2018/12/10/nasa-voyager-2-entered-interstellar-space/