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.
"Still, a million miles per day is not even Warp 2."
You're right, but approximately 4,667 MPH is just a tad faster than my old jalopy goes, LOL.
I'll settle for a green, Orion slave girl.
Already done my friend. Al-read-y done!
Just take a hold of your towel and stick out your thumb and hitch a ride with Douglas Adams!
Why does NASA forget about Pioneer I and II both of which are further away from earth than any Voyager?
And no mention at all of the freakish acceleration being observed? To me, that's the most exciting part of the whole mission. For some unknown reason, Voyager is speeding up as it gets farther away.
Pioneer 10 and 11...
An unknown attractive force? Gravitational forces from our Solar System is losing its grip?
Just about every weird new physics idea - inspired by astrophysics anyway - is a side effect of the plain english fact that the gravity based predictions just come out wrong. Pioneer comes out wrong, galaxy rotation comes out wrong, gravitational lensing in galaxy clusters comes out wrong, theoretical expansion of the universe come out wrong. So they posit one after another weird new undiscovered whosits. Meanwhile, we've never detected a gravitational wave despite very sensitive detectors and theory that says there should be scads of them, and everyone knows that our theory of gravity and quantum theory cannot be stapled together - they are mathematically not consistent with each other.
In the end, we will find GR was a better approximation than Newton at some scales and energies, but is not actually right in detail.
"two in front, and one in back for dancing" --Al Bundy
Ok, I'm a Star Trek buff, but I don't remember when warp 10 was exceeded that one time. What happened? I remember when the Kelvans took over the Enterprise and it would take hundreds of years to reach Andromeda galaxy, and only their descendants would see it.
That would be Star Trek V, I think, the one where they come back in time to modern-day Earth.
Are you sure about that?
Did you see the episode of "Star Trek, Enterprise" where they encountered the Orion Slave Girls?
They just get better with age, don't they? But there's a catch!
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