Skip to comments.Voyager 1 passes milestone
Posted on 08/21/2006 8:49:57 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
Voyager 1, already the most distant human-made object in the cosmos, reached 100 astronomical units from the sun on Tuesday, August 15 at 5:13 p.m. Eastern time (2:13 p.m. Pacific time). That means the spacecraft, which launched nearly three decades ago, is 100 times more distant from the sun than Earth is.
In more common terms, Voyager 1 is about 15 billion kilometers (9.3 billion miles) from the sun. Dr. Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist and the former director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., says the Voyager team always predicted that the spacecraft would have enough power to last this long.
"But what you can't predict is that the spacecraft isn't going to wear out or break. Voyager 1 and 2 run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but they were built to last," Stone said. The spacecraft have really been put to the test during their nearly 30 years of space travel, flying by the outer planets, and enduring such challenges as the harsh radiation environment around Jupiter.
The spacecraft are traveling at a distance where the sun is but a bright point of light and solar energy is not an option for electrical power. The Voyagers owe their longevity to their nuclear power sources, called radioisotope thermoelectric generators, provided by the Department of Energy.
Voyager 1 is now at the outer edge of our solar system, in an area called the heliosheath, the zone where the sun's influence wanes. This region is the outer layer of the 'bubble' surrounding the sun, and no one knows how big this bubble actually is. Voyager 1 is literally venturing into the great unknown and is approaching interstellar space. Traveling at a speed of about one million miles per day, Voyager 1 could cross into interstellar space within the next 10 years.
"Interstellar space is filled with material ejected by explosions of nearby stars," Stone said. "Voyager 1 will be the first human-made object to cross into it."
Voyager Project Manager Ed Massey of JPL says the survival of the two spacecraft is a credit to the robust design of the spacecraft, and to the flight team, which is now down to only 10 people. "But it's these 10 people who are keeping these spacecraft alive. They're very dedicated. This is sort of a testament to them, that we could get all this done."
Between them, the two Voyagers have explored Jupiter, Uranus, Saturn and Neptune, along with dozens of their moons. In addition, they have been studying the solar wind, the stream of charged particles spewing from the sun at nearly a million miles per hour.
Wow, those burma shave signs are everywhere.
But when ending a mission and cruising to the next, Kirk always said, "Warp Factor Two, Mr. Sulu." It would have taken them months to find Zephram Cochran at those speeds!
V'Ger is looking for "God"... and God is observeing V'Ger..
Could prompt a poem... or some prose..
Yikes. Is that like an oversized kidney stone?
I wonder who get the frequent flyer miles??
(( ping ))
If you miss your exit at that speed you're screwed.
Surely by now we could adapt that technology to provide power for us mere earthlings?
Kinda slow, imho, given plain old orbital speeds.
This prompts me to ask a question that occasionally springs to my mind. I just saw an astronomy presentation, and one image among the photos was of the Milky Way galaxy, with an arrow indicating the Earth's position in it.
The context of this image suggested that it, too, was a photograph. However, how can that possibly be the case if only a couple of manmade objects have even made it outside the bounds of our solar system? Is what I saw merely an artist's conception that wasn't identified as such? I'm sure this will seem like a stupid question to some, but it's just one of those things I've never had the opportunity to ask anyone about. If it is actually a photo, then how was the image captured?
That's neat that your father was able to be part of that team. That's quite an honor.
This will be its last transmission, I am sure...
Klaatu Barada Nikto!
"There are actual milestones 9.3 Billion miles from the sun? Do they have them every mile?"
A marker for every mile,
to busy minds of every chil'
learning to count, add and subtract
makes them bright and that's a fact,
keeping parents sane all the while.
Thank your dad for me.
Will we ever find three-breasted females in the Universe?
They got the pic from a postcard from an alien...