- NASA's Voyager 2 probe sends back invaluable information about interstellar space.
- The probe was launched in 1977.
- 5 new studies detail the data collected from its instruments.
More than 40 years after its launch, the NASA Voyager 2 spacecraft sent back invaluable information from the interstellar space. This is only the second spacecraft in history to go beyond the heliosphere ̵
New research published by researchers confirms that Voyager 2 is now traveling through the so-called interstellar environment (ISM) an interstellar zone. However, as it happens about 11 billion miles from Earth, scientists have been able to determine the ship's transition to ISM from the change in plasma density of gas composed of charged particles. Data reported by a Voyager Plasma Wave Instrument showed a transition from low-density solar plasma to colder, high-density plasma associated with interstellar space. This is also observed aboard Voyager 1, the first man-made spacecraft to pass through ISM in 2012.
Caltech professor of physics Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist, emphasized the significance of this probes revealed:
"Voyager probes show us how our Sun interacts with things that fill most of the space between stars in the Milky Way galaxy," Stone said in a press release. "Without this new data from Voyager 2, we would not know if what we see with Voyager 1 is specific to the whole heliosphere or specifically to the location and time when it passes." NASA's Voyager 2 enters the interstellar space
The five new studies that have been published provide details of findings from one of Voyager 2's research tools. These include a magnetic field sensor, two instruments that detect energy particles, and two other instruments that study plasma.
Among the remarkable conclusions from the instruments is that some particles of the heliosphere cross a slightly porous boundary into interstellar space. Another finding shows that the magnetic field in the area immediately outside the heliopause parallels the magnetic field inside it.
The two probes were launched in 1977, flying from Jupiter and Saturn, where they diverge. Voyager 2 eventually changed its route to Saturn to fly near Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 1 is actually the faster probe and is currently about 13.6 billion miles from our Sun. Voyager 2 is about 11.3 billion miles away.
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