September 12, 2013

Voyager 1 becomes the first man-made object to enter interstellar space.

The trip took 36 years.
The lonely probe, which is 11.7 billion miles from Earth and hurtling away at 38,000 miles per hour, has long been on the verge of bursting through the heliosphere, a vast, bullet-shaped bubble of particles blown out by the sun. Scientists have spent this year debating whether it had done so, interpreting the data Voyager sent back in different ways.
It hasn't sent back any pictures since 1990.

37 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Space Odessey 2013. This must really annoy the Egyptian Sun God Osirus. It escaped.

Maybe that's why a new maunder minimum is freezing our asses again. The Son got his felings hurt.

If only the Fabricated Global Warming From CO2 Scam Science was true. Then we could burn all coal in place of solar panels and windmills and save the freezing world.

Larry J said...

Still returning useful science after all these years.

From that last photo taken in 1990, the Earth is the pale blue dot roughly centered vertically and about 1/4th of the way from the right.

Ipso Fatso said...

I can see some Martian dude sayin', "Hey, this things got an 8 track!!! Get me some Capt. Beefheart!!!!"

CWJ said...

Wow, just wow!

Original Mike said...

" Scientists have spent this year debating whether it had done so, interpreting the data Voyager sent back in different ways."

What? No consensus? These guys aren't scientists!

Seriously, congratulations man-kind. This is cool.

gadfly said...

Help! The government continues to "employ" a staff of twelve people to track Voyager 1 - which has not broadcast back to Earth since 1990. What in Hell have these people been doing for the past 23 years - other than attending meetings and sneaking up and down the back stairs?

We can shut down White House tours, limit the hours of VA health professionals as a result of the sequestration - but we continue to fund Voyager 1? Beam me up, Scotty.

TML said...

This is seriously mind-f***ingly incredible.

Some vagueness (for me):

1. It takes 17 hours for transmissions to reach earth? How frequent are the transmissions?

2. The old scientist reprogrammed the spacecraft from 11.8 billion miles away? Details please!

LordSomber said...

Farewell, V'ger.

JRoberts said...

It's not enough that we've left litter on our planet, our moon and Mars that we have to start littering outside our solar system?

Just kidding. Congrats V-ger!

Original Mike said...

Remember. It's pronounced Vee-ger.

Smilin' Jack said...

This is so bogus. Even if you believe an eight track recorder would still work after 36 years, can you imagine how brittle the tape would be at interstellar temperatures--i.e. 400+ degrees below zero? Ever since they got away with faking the moon landings, NASA thinks people will believe anything.

LYNNDH said...

It will Return!

pubeditor said...

gadfly said: "The government continues to 'employ' a staff of twelve people to track Voyager 1 - which has not broadcast back to Earth since 1990."

Voyager 1 is still broadcasting; it's just that the camera has stopped working. NASA is still receiving data on radiation levels, cosmic rays, low energy charged particles, etc. No more photos, but Voyager has not stopped broadcasting.

Also, fwiw, I suspect that the 12-person Voyager team also keeps tabs on Voyager 2, Pioneer 10, and Pioneer 11.

madAsHell said...

Whew! It's Voyager 1.
We only have to worry about Voyager 6!!

Ficta said...

>which has not broadcast back to Earth since 1990.

Voyager broadcasts to Earth regularly, roughly once a day, usually. It just doesn't send photos anymore (there's nothing to take a picture of where it is now) Several of the instruments: magnetometer, plasma wave detector, low energy charged particle detector,etc are still working. The LECP is on a rotating stepper platform that still sweeps across the sky. Amazing.

> It takes 17 hours for transmissions to reach earth?

Light travel time

>The old scientist reprogrammed the spacecraft from 11.8 billion miles away?

You make a new block of machine code and send commands to the spacecraft to "poke" it into memory in place of what's there now. A scary thing to do.

Alex said...

This really depends on how you define a solar system. To me it includes the Oort Cloud which means Voyager hasn't exited the solar system and might never.

The Godfather said...

36 years to get out of the solar system? My hopes for interstellar travel are fading.

I'm reminded of the old Bob Newhart routine about the Wright brothers: "The flight covered only 1,000 feet? That's really gonna hurt our time to the coast."

El Pollo Raylan said...

Voyager was launched in 1977, before laser disc and CD technology. It carries a gold disc which looks like a vinyl LP: link

It's ironic that most people on earth couldn't access that data today unless they had a turntable.

Christy said...

Just like the movie Space Cowboys but without the field trip.

8-tracks never got the respect they deserved because the delivery system stank. Cassettes didn't have as fine a quality sound but were so very much more convenient.

St. George said...

His mother told him one day he would be a man,
And he would be the leader of a big ol' band,
Many people coming from miles around
To hear him play his music when the Sun go down.
Maybe some day your name would be in...the stars
Saying "Johnny B. Goode Tonight."

America's contribution to interstellar music.

Cedarford said...

Help! The government continues to "employ" a staff of twelve people to track Voyager 1 - which has not broadcast back to Earth since 1990. What in Hell have these people been doing for the past 23 years - other than attending meetings and sneaking up and down the back stairs?

We can shut down White House tours, limit the hours of VA health professionals as a result of the sequestration - but we continue to fund Voyager 1? Beam me up, Scotty.

=================
Ignorant. The Voyagers continue to send a stream of telemetry of the nature of the electromagnetic and gravitational physics of the outer edge of our heliosphere, where the boundary was between our solar system and interstellar space. Evidence of smooth or iregular signals to give more evidence of the historical solar output and strength of the solar wind. Gas density - which matters if we send faster craft capable of generating a high energy X-Ray or gamma wave on collision with a H, He gas atom.

It is not a staff of 12. It is 3 operators and 6-9 scientists that liaise part-time and represent America in feeding the data to some 60 universities and 18 physics centers globally. As well as analyzing the data themselves.

White House tours? Let the tourists pay a fee and make it self-funding. Benefits for the Heroes Who Save Us All being scaled down due to excess and duplication of services? Had to be done. Scams abound. From PTSD overclaims to sleazy Vets that wheedle triple even quintuple compensation for the same claim from the Feds, States, and private charity groups

Lance said...

This really depends on how you define a solar system. To me it includes the Oort Cloud which means Voyager hasn't exited the solar system and might never.

Voyager 1 won't reach the Cloud's nearest theoretical interior boundary for another 516 years or so. That of course assumes Voyager maintains its present relative velocity of 17 km/s (definitely won't), and also that the Oort Cloud does in fact exist (probably does).

CharlesVegas said...

Haven't you all seen this?

http://xkcd.com/1189/

CharlesVegas said...

Haven't you all seen this?

http://xkcd.com/1189/

Strelnikov said...

Best future reference to Voyager? Not "Star Trek: The Movie". Futurama did a thing where it returned as a killer robot with the name "V-giny". Every time it hoved into view, Frye giggled, even when it was trying to kill them.

Emil Blatz said...

Poor, lonely probe!

Revenant said...

Damnit, Charles Vegas, I wanted to link that.

F said...

No pictures in a quarter century. Just like the kids. You feed 'em, dress 'em, send 'em to school and they hair up their ass and take off and that's the last you hear.

Elliott A said...

This helps people visualize the true immensity of the cosmos. 17 light hours. 4 light years to the nearest star. 2.5 million light years to the nearest galaxy. No expeditions out of the solar system for a while.

Bob Ellison said...

Saturn is all "he never calls!"

St. George said...

The observable universe is 93 billion light years across.

Khan academy video

In human terms, that is the distance President Obama would have had to travel to get Congress to pass his resolution on Syria.

John Constantius said...

Voyager should just have stayed within a 1-day trip of its home. Travel further than that is pointless; in the same period of time it could have read a few good books on the Oort Cloud instead.

Indigo Red said...

Great. Now the Borg will know we're here.

Sam Hall said...

"In human terms, that is the distance President Obama would have had to travel to get Congress to pass his resolution on Syria. "

He doesn't have go that far. Alpha Centauri would be far enough as long as it is a one-way trip.

C_Oliver said...

Anti-Obama comments in response to a Voyager probe article?!

My modest proposal: a wingnut reinvention of the old surrealist game 'Exquisite Corpse'.

Pick 3 words out of Webster's completely at random, then use them in a sentence criticising the President.

I'll kick it off: orchestra, bob, Essene.

Michael McNeil said...

The nearest galaxy (besides our own) is “only” some 150,000 light years away, not 2½ million. The latter is the distance to Andromeda, which is far from being the closest galaxy.

eddie willers said...

Cassettes didn't have as fine a quality sound but were so very much more convenient.

On a related note, Ray Dolby died yesterday.