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NASA Space Science

Voyager 1 Exits Our Solar System 341

Posted by samzenpus
from the so-long-farewell-auf-wiedersehen-goodbye dept.
eldavojohn writes "The first man-made craft to do so is now entering a 'cosmic purgatory' between solar systems and entering an interstellar space of the Milky Way Galaxy. With much anticipation, Voyager 1 is now 'in a stagnation region in the outermost layer of the bubble around our solar system. Voyager is showing that what is outside is pushing back.' After three decades the spacecraft is still operating and apparently has enough power and fuel to continue to do so until 2020. The first big piece of news? 'We've been using the flow of energetic charged particles at Voyager 1 as a kind of wind sock to estimate the solar wind velocity. We've found that the wind speeds are low in this region and gust erratically. For the first time, the wind even blows back at us. We are evidently traveling in completely new territory. Scientists had suggested previously that there might be a stagnation layer, but we weren't sure it existed until now.' This process could take months to years to completely leave the outer shell but already scientists are receiving valuable information."
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Voyager 1 Exits Our Solar System

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  • Amazing (Score:5, Funny)

    by ossuary (1532467) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @06:46PM (#38296518)
    It is just freaking amazing that things electronics can still work after being exposed to such an environment for so long. Good job Voyager and good job old school NASA. Just don't come back home in a few hundred years with a chip on your shoulder!
    • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by travisco_nabisco (817002) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @06:52PM (#38296604)
      I too am completely amazed that the Voyager is still sending back useful data after all these years.

      Sometimes I wonder how much further ahead humanity would be if we built everything with the need to have it last decades before becoming nonfunctional, then I realize that with the rate technology has advanced, that is just not possible. Not to mention that we would have a totally different world economy if people weren't continually replacing perfectly functional items, from clothing to electronics to vehicles. So much of the global economy is dependent on people buying more things.
      • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Funny)

        by ArsonSmith (13997) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:05PM (#38296776) Journal

        we can't even make mars rovers that last very long....ohh wait.

        http://xkcd.com/695/ [xkcd.com]

      • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eriks (31863) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:44PM (#38297182) Homepage

        Not to mention that we would have a totally different world economy if people weren't continually replacing perfectly functional items, from clothing to electronics to vehicles.

        Totally new world economy not based on consuming breakable crap, please! I'd like one.

        Well designed, well-engineered products, that last, would be more "expensive", but in the long run, humanity and the planet will be better off when we finally switch over to a less wasteful system.

        Fortunately we do have examples (like the Voyager probes) of good engineering, not that our washing machines and TVs need to be *quite* that well-engineered, but still, there's a lot of room for improvement.

        • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

          by keytoe (91531) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:59PM (#38297364) Homepage

          not that our washing machines and TVs need to be *quite* that well-engineered, but still, there's a lot of room for improvement.

          This level of quality exists for almost anything you would care to buy. These items costs a bit more and they don't carry them at Walmart, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

          • Re:Amazing (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Scratch-O-Matic (245992) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:16PM (#38297598)
            My mom is still using a Mitsubishi television she bought in 1983.
            • Re:Amazing (Score:4, Insightful)

              by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @11:31PM (#38299158)

              My mom is still using a Mitsubishi television she bought in 1983.

              Yeah really, my grandmother used the same damn toaster she bought in the early 60's almost every single day up until the day she died 5 years ago. Her Mr. Coffee was at least 25 years old as well, and her microwave, despite being so old as to have oven style knob controls, worked even better than any microwave I've ever bought.

              Today you need to order commercial-grade appliances from European master craftsmen for thousands of dollars to get the same level of quality my grandmother got on sale at Sears 30+ years ago on her husband's truck driver salary. Pretty sad...

              • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

                by serviscope_minor (664417) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:13AM (#38300686) Journal

                Pretty sad...

                Not really. Sadly you can't ask her anymore, but I suspect that those items were very expensive and required careful planning and saving.

                You can get a cheap and nasty microwave these days for 30GBP in a supermarket. You can also get light industrial units for under 600GBP which clock in at 1900W. It's not made by a European master craftsman, or hard to get. And I'll bet that 500GBP to me or you now would be less painful than the microwave was to your gran in the 60's.

                The world now is frankly amazing. Even cheap, nasty stuff is often better then the very best stuff available 20 or 30 years ago, and vastly vastly cheaper. And you can still find the quality stuff (it took me about a minute with google for the microwave), and in fact find it even more easily than ever before.

            • Can I point out something? There's selection bias going on here with the vast majority of people who are saying "They don't make them like they used to" and bringing up old devices that still work as examples.

              Here's what I've found. There are some goods that last a long time, and there's everything else. 9/10 items actually end up being thrown away before they fail anyway. Of the remainder, a significant number will fail because the MTBF of some component in it kicks in according to manufacturer's spec,

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            not that our washing machines and TVs need to be *quite* that well-engineered, but still, there's a lot of room for improvement.

            This level of quality exists for almost anything you would care to buy. These items costs a bit more and they don't carry them at Walmart, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

            Except that 2 decades ago you could still find well engineered products that lasted that the middle class could afford to buy. Today you either have cheap crap from Walmart, or high end stuff. Whats missing is the whole middle class thing, where you could find quality at an acceptable price.
            Not today unfortunately.

          • Re:Amazing (Score:4, Informative)

            by grcumb (781340) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @11:25PM (#38299104) Homepage Journal

            This level of quality exists for almost anything you would care to buy. These items costs a bit more and they don't carry them at Walmart, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

            Congratulations, you've just discovered the Sam Vimes' Boots theory of wealth [lspace.org].

            TL;DR: Only the rich can afford to save money.

          • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

            by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @11:29PM (#38299142) Journal

            But would they be better in the long run or worse? My CRT monitors worked just fine, just got finished replacing the last 2 in the family with 20 inch LCDs i got cheap on cyber Monday. while i will give those CRTs away rather than have them end up in the dump the amount of power they sucked was just unreal compared to the energy star LCDs i picked up, i could have easily run 5 monitors in the place of a single one of those CRTs and still had power left over.

            The problem with making things last is the flip side and that's the fact that each generation the power usage gets MUCH better. My P4 mobile laptop is still running to this day with a customer but at its best it would suck a battery dry in 2 hours flat and cranked out the heat, while my new Zacate netbook runs 6 hours plus on a battery a hell of a lot smaller and plugged in it takes a max 18w under heavy load, most of the time less than 8 I'd say.

            so do we REALLY want people keeping the old tech and draining that much more power, or is it better to have them get something new that uses much less? i'm not an economics guy so i don't know, i just know that the electric bill at my family's house dropped like mad without having those CRTs constantly pulling juice. the bill went down so much that they actually sent someone out to check the meter to make sure we hadn't figured out a way to scam them!

            • by tibit (1762298)

              European-style washers and dryers have not made huge advances in energy efficiency in the last decade. Heck, dryers probably didn't for at least two decades. My parents had a BOSCH condensing dryer for 20 years, and there's no way really to make it any more efficient. A decent washing machine (front-loader) from 10 years ago will use a motor with electronic commutation, and those are as good as it gets. Same goes for a toaster: the ones from today aren't any more efficient than ones from 30 years ago. Coffe

        • Re:Amazing (Score:4, Insightful)

          by grouchomarxist (127479) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:33PM (#38297808)

          For some products this makes sense, but when it comes to things that change rapidly, like technology, you're making a trade-off between investing vs. features. If I choose a long lasting computer now I may miss out on features that are developed later.

          With clothes there are probably trade offs regarding fashion, but then this is /.

          • by mug funky (910186)

            sort of, but old stuff still has a lot of use.

            if you need raw speed for something other than games, it might be more economical to use EC-2 or some similar cloud service. otherwise your workplace most likely provides you with an adequate machine.

            if you're a gamer, you could conceivably turn details down to maintain speed (the simplified view might actually make n00bs easier to pwn).

            if you just browse, your netbook will give you years of use and can be repaired if need be.

            phones are replaced far too often -

          • by Pharmboy (216950)

            If I choose a long lasting computer now I may miss out on features that are developed later.

            From my experience, 75% of computers that are ten years old still work, more or less. Sometimes a power supply or hard drive (or more likely, monitor) will die, and the other 25% have motherboard failures, but most work fine. We just traded out our 7 year old computers at work, 75% of what we bought back in 04 and haven't done anything except add ram and upgrade the monitors to LCD back in 08 (we are still using a

        • Why wouldn't you want your washing machine last a long, long time? I know I do, and bought a Miele, the only brand that is actually manufactured in Germany (unlike all the others, being made in China). That washing machine cost twice as much as almost any other equivalent, but I figured it will last me about 4 to 5 times as long. It has already worked for longer than any other brand would have, and shows 0 signs of getting old. It seems I'll sooner sell this apartment than replace my washing machine.

          • by skids (119237)

            Why wouldn't you want your washing machine last a long, long time

            Well, washing machines haven't done much on the efficiency front, but if you were talking about a fridge, you wouldn't want to pay for the durability up front if it was going to cost you the same amount as a new fridge every 5 years in electricity, above and beyond what a new fridge would use. In that case, buying a cheaper model that needed to be replaced would actually save money, and ecological impact.

            • by khallow (566160)

              but if you were talking about a fridge, you wouldn't want to pay for the durability up front if it was going to cost you the same amount as a new fridge every 5 years in electricity

              Why would it? I'm sure some high end refrigerators aren't particularly energy efficient, but I imagine you have choices of models that are.

      • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

        by arielCo (995647) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:02PM (#38297408)

        Sometimes I wonder how much further ahead humanity would be if we built everything with the need to have it last decades before becoming nonfunctional, then I realize that with the rate technology has advanced, that is just not possible. Not to mention that we would have a totally different world economy if people weren't continually replacing perfectly functional items, from clothing to electronics to vehicles. So much of the global economy is dependent on people buying more things.

        Only if you don't mind your next cell phone costing you a few months' salary. Top-notch quality in tech is costly:

        The cost of the Voyager 1 and 2 missions -- including launch, mission operations from launch through the Neptune encounter and the spacecraft's nuclear batteries (provided by the Department of Energy) -- is $865 million.

        (That'd be $3.2B in 2011 dollars)
        http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/news/factsheet.html [nasa.gov]

        • For a lot of items that is worth it.
          for example my kitchen knives, they are rather expensive (not absurd, but easily 10x the price of the cheap walmart set), and worth every penny. I expect at some point my kids will be using them after I am dead.
          much of my tools are of a similar build quality. I want to trust my tools not to break, at all under normal use, and not catastrophically under above max rating use. i.e. using a non rated socket on an impact driver. cheap socket will fracture and grenade, thro

          • by perpenso (1613749)

            I expect at some point my kids will be using them after I am dead. much of my tools are of a similar build quality. I want to trust my tools not to break, at all under normal use, and not catastrophically under above max rating use.

            I have my grandfather's household tools, keep in mind that in his day you did most of the maintenance and repairs of your home yourself so the collection is a little larger than one might guess. I have a granduncle's tools too and he was a carpenter. Unfortunately the wiring on his power tools are unsafe now but I also have his hand tools from the earlier part of his career. Too bad I flunked wood shop. If your stuff is built like the stuff from the 1940s and 50s it may make it well past your grandkids.

        • by mug funky (910186)

          that's amazingly cheap! my estimate was an order of magnitude higher.

      • Not to mention that we would have a totally different world economy if people weren't continually replacing perfectly functional items, from clothing to electronics to vehicles. So much of the global economy is dependent on people buying more things.

        It doesn't have to be this way. We have made the economic system we are currently living under; it has been designed to achieve particular ends, such as efficient allocation of resources. This system is isn't a law of nature. We can change it. We can tweak it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes. And that is the problem with the economy. When you can't muster the resources to keep "growing" as you blatantly can't on a finite planet, then you go into a world credit crisis because the whole thing is a house of cards built on the premise of waste. Waster of resources, waste of money. And economists call it "economy". If they knew anything about economy they would hire an ecologist to fix their basic theories. Boom and bust is a sign of a broken ecosystem, yet we're to believe that's how an economy

    • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Informative)

      by scharkalvin (72228) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @06:54PM (#38296628) Homepage

      Voyagers transmitter uses a pencil type vacuum tube in the final amplifier. At the time they were designed there were no transistors that could operate at the required frequency and power level and also withstand the expected cosmic radiation in space. Tubes were the ONLY devices RAD hard enough to do the job.
      Since then RCA has quit making tubes (and a lot of other stuff as well).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by camperdave (969942)
        But it's in a vacuum already. So all you need to do is stick a filament, an emitter, grid, etc onto the craft and away you go. You don't actually need the tube part. That just holds out the atmosphere.
        • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

          by travisco_nabisco (817002) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:11PM (#38297536)
          But with all those gusty extra-solar winds, who knows where the electrons will end up if we don't keep them in an enclosed space.
        • by Agripa (139780)

          But it's in a vacuum already. So all you need to do is stick a filament, an emitter, grid, etc onto the craft and away you go. You don't actually need the tube part. That just holds out the atmosphere.

          You still need to prevent stray currents from between the tube elements and the surrounding conductors. Circuit boards need insulating coatings although the lower voltages normally associated with solid state circuits helps.

    • If they come back looking like Tricia Helfer I won't be complaining
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @06:57PM (#38296668)

      It's too bad so many people here were born or grew up after 1990, at which point most American industry had been decimated and sent over to third-world shit heaps like China, India, and Mexico.

      You people will never realize that American-manufactured goods were once the best there were. They were durable, they actually weren't that expensive, and you could trust them.

      Then globalization and so-called "free trade" happened to ruin all of that. Products that you could once buy from an American manufacturer and you'd know they'd work perfectly for decades could now only be obtained from third-world manufacturers. Of course, they skimped on just about every aspect to make the product as cheap as possible. American-made equivalents would have lasted for many years, while these third-world manufactures often break after two or three uses!

      But since the American industry has been destroyed, it's not even possible to buy American-made goods even if you wanted to. You're stuck buying shitty foreign products.

      • by decora (1710862) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:27PM (#38296992) Journal

        lets face facts. they only outsourced for two main reasons.

        number 1, to avoid the EPA

        number 2, to avoid labor unions

        all of that 'classic american technology' was built with union hands and by people paying union dues. they went on something called a 'strike' once in a while, too. fascinating concept - you stop working in order to improve conditions and pressure employers.

        • by zill (1690130) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:35PM (#38297088)

          number 2, to avoid labor unions

          While I share your distaste of unions, there's no really way to avoid them in a democratic society. Democracy require the freedom of association, which will inevitability lead to unions if a majority of your workers are dissatisfied enough.

          • by mattack2 (1165421) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:51PM (#38297274)

            Then a company should be able to not hire someone if they belong to a union, as the company's (owner's) right, correct?

            • by zill (1690130)
              Yes, of course. But two problems will manifest itself:

              1. If you hire someone on the condition that they will not join the union, then union will simply strike until that person is removed. This prevents you from getting new employees.
              2. Employees will retire or jump ships.

              Problem #1 means you can't add new employees, and problem #2 means you gradually lose employees, therefore you will eventually end up with 0 employees.
              • by mattack2 (1165421) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:13PM (#38297554)

                Will you really end up with 0 employees?

                Why aren't there software engineer unions? (I've seen that mentioned here before.)

                Also, aren't various companies anti-union in general? I think Walmart is one example (and yes, I know a lot of people hate them). Walmart does not seem to be in any danger of losing employees.

                • by zill (1690130) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:32PM (#38297804)

                  Why aren't there software engineer unions? (I've seen that mentioned here before.)

                  Because the software industry is relatively new and treats its employees relatively well. Some industries with high percentage of unions used to mow down their workers with machine guns [wikipedia.org], so the unions were originally a self-defense mechanism of the workers that was born out of necessity.

                  I think Walmart is one example (and yes, I know a lot of people hate them). Walmart does not seem to be in any danger of losing employees.

                  Walmart will close entire stores if the workers tries to unionize. So yes, they've probably lost millions of workers and thousands of stores across globe due to this tactic. But so far, like you pointed out, it's been quite effective (at a huge cost to Walmart).

                  However keep in mind that this tactic only works if you have a huge number of distinct locations across many different countries. Not many companies fit that criteria.

              • Why should a company put up with that nonsense? Strike and you're gone. There are plenty of other people who are willing to work.
              • Doesn't work this way.

                1 - You hire people not from the union (without a clause forbiding them of joining). Unionised people go on strike. You let those go, and hire more people not from the union.

                There are a few ways things may proceed from then:

                1 - Good workers want to join the union. That is because both the union is good for them, and employers aren't. You are out of luck, since you won't replace those unionised workers with good ones.

                2 - There are plenty of good workers out of the union. That is because

              • by sFurbo (1361249)

                1. If you hire someone on the condition that they will not join the union, then union will simply strike until that person is removed. This prevents you from getting new employees.

                The case seems more to be (at least in Denmark, until it was made illegal) that if you hire anyone and you do not demand them to join the union, the union will strike until that person is fired, or has joined the union. This, of course, makes unions a force against freedom of association (which must include freedom to not be a part of any particular association as well).

            • by cmholm (69081)

              I suspect you're just making a rhetorical point, and logically correct.

              On the off chance you weren't, you may wish to review US labor history, with the Pullman Strike [wikipedia.org] and passage of the Taft-Hartley Act [wikipedia.org] as especially significant milestones.

              "Closed shops" are illegal in the US. Someone joining a company with a union contract may, however, be required to join a relevant trade union, or at least pay the dues.

              The grandparent (troll-rated) post is correct as far as it goes (re: avoid EPA/unions), insofar as envi

          • by trout007 (975317)

            There are no problems with unions only with government support or hostility towards them. What is interesting is there are no neutral states. There are pro-union and right to work states. One uses force to make an employer deal with unions and the other forces them to allow people to work without joining unions. The neutral position would have the government take no stance on them. Like you said in a free society with freedom of association you would have unions form. But the employer would also have the fr

        • by drnb (2434720) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:31PM (#38297794)

          lets face facts. they only outsourced for two main reasons.

          number 1, to avoid the EPA

          number 2, to avoid labor unions

          all of that 'classic american technology' was built with union hands and by people paying union dues. they went on something called a 'strike' once in a while, too. fascinating concept - you stop working in order to improve conditions and pressure employers.

          You are not facing facts. The fact is that consumers killed US manufacturing. Consumers selected goods based on one and only one criteria: retail price. When presented with a high quality US made product and a less expensive foreign made product the US consumers overwhelmingly chose the foreign made good. It wasn't the CEOs, the 1%, etc. The 99% did it to themselves. Corporations don't care where things are made, only that they sell, and consumers chose what sells and what does not. Corporate greed can lead to domestic manufacture just as easily as it can lead to foreign manufacture, it just depends on US consumers favoring domestic production over retail price. Assuming you are a US citizen and you need a flashlight for your car, there is a $20 US made Maglite next to a $7 chinese made brand, what do you chose? What does your choice tell the Maglite CEO to do?

          Unions knew this too. There was no shortage of "Save a Job, Buy American" bumper stickers in the 1970s. US Consumers didn't care, a classic example of tragedy of the commons.

          Fortunately the internet has made it easier to find US made goods than one might expect by browsing local brick and mortar establishments.

      • by mattack2 (1165421) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:49PM (#38297250)

        it's not even possible to buy American-made goods even if you wanted to.

        While that's true for many types of things, ABC News has been doing a Made in America series for most of this year. (I've only seen a few of the reports when reaired on World News Now.) They've found lots of things made in America, and some was cheaper than the foreign made stuff. I don't remember all of the examples, but toys, furniture, cooking implements were some of them. (The most recent report I saw was a followup where the Bundt pan factory hired a few more people, at least partially because sales had gone way up since the last report.)

        As others have said in past discussions of this type, what do you call a Toyota made (assembled/built) in Kentucky? Is that an American car or a foreign car?

        I disagree with your main premise, but if you want "American made", you can find it, at least for many things.. but you'll sometimes have to pay more, and definitely will have to look harder.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          its a foreign car because the profit goes over seas and is invested there.

          • by mattack2 (1165421) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:40PM (#38297886)

            Then by that logic, products made by American companies in other countries should count as "American made".

          • by mug funky (910186)

            truth be told, a lot of the profit is invested where the car was made - people need to be paid, machines need to be maintained/replaced.

            it's not as good as made and owned, but really, what's the difference between a rich person in Japan and a rich person in the USA? the bulk of the good comes from local manufacture. you can see this from the proliferation of USA companies that manufacture overseas - how much are they contributing to life in the USA?

      • Products that you could once buy from an American manufacturer and you'd know they'd work perfectly for decades could now only be obtained from third-world manufacturers.

        You mean, like American cars in the 80s? I used to see quite a few of those clunkers when I first came to the US, and their lack of quality was shocking.

        Face it, American products had gone down the shitter a long time before NAFTA. I think this might be the equivalent of the uphill, through the snow, both ways stories old people tell.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          And 20+ years later many of them are still on the road.

          • by yodleboy (982200)
            I don't know where you are, but where I live most 80's vintage American cars don't appear to be in very good shape (paint jobs appear to be particularly bad quality in the 80s). There's a big difference between "still on the road" and "safely, reliably and comfortably still on the road". Still running is not a sign of quality.
      • by zixxt (1547061) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:08PM (#38297500)

        You people will never realize that American-manufactured goods were once the best there were. They were durable, they actually weren't that expensive, and you could trust them.

        Any facts or figures to back up this hyperbole of a statement ?

        • by wanzeo (1800058)

          Sounds to me like American goods were once like Chinese goods are becoming right now. Seriously, the jokes about Chinese goods being crap is showing its' age.

          It pains me to think about it, but if I had to bet my pension on either the Americans or the Chinese building a successor to Voyager, I would go all in on the Chinese.

          • by thrich81 (1357561) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @10:30PM (#38298746)
            The successor to Voyager I was built a few years ago -- it's called New Horizons. Launched in 2006 and halfway to Pluto right now. Proudly Made in USA. Tell me about superior Chinese tech when they send something to Pluto.
            • by martijnd (148684)

              New Horizons was launched on January 19, 2006, directly into an Earth-and-solar-escape trajectory with an Earth-relative velocity of about 16.26 km/s (58,536 km/h; 36,373 mph) after its last engine shut down. Thus, the spacecraft left Earth at the greatest ever launch speed for a man-made object. It flew by Jupiter on February 28, 2007, the orbit of Saturn on June 8, 2008; and the orbit of Uranus on March 18, 2011. (Source: Wikipedia)

              Nice!

      • by yodleboy (982200) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:11PM (#38298148)
        Whatever. I distinctly remember from Back to the Future that all the best stuff is made in Japan. And that was in 1985, so there!
      • ... it's not even possible to buy American-made goods even if you wanted to. You're stuck buying shitty foreign products ...

        Try googling "Made in USA".

        And when on a particular website see if "Made in USA" is one of the search filters: http://www.rei.com/search?search=Made+in+the+USA [rei.com]. Look at the categories and item counts on the left of this page.

      • America invented disposable razors. It was an American idea to make things disposable.
    • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:38PM (#38297128)

      It is just freaking amazing that things electronics can still work after being exposed to such an environment for so long. Good job Voyager and good job old school NASA. Just don't come back home in a few hundred years with a chip on your shoulder!

      Well if you want to put the situation into perspective, Voyager one has been going on for 34 years and has YET to leave the solar system. Another 10 years and it will find itself on the threshold of interstellar space. And then no more power it will go dead. Think about it, 47 years in space and it will barely have reached the begining of interstellar space. Half the lifetime of a human being (more or less) and our fastest spacecraft is still right by our home. If this doesn't drive home just how far we are from really reaching into space nothing will.

      • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Funny)

        by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:54PM (#38297310) Homepage

        Well if you want to put the situation into perspective, Voyager one has been going on for 34 years and has YET to leave the solar system. Another 10 years and it will find itself on the threshold of interstellar space. And then no more power it will go dead. Think about it, 47 years in space and it will barely have reached the begining of interstellar space. Half the lifetime of a human being (more or less) and our fastest spacecraft is still right by our home. If this doesn't drive home just how far we are from really reaching into space nothing will.

        "Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space, listen..." (HHGG)

  • Moving goalposts (Score:3, Informative)

    by Axalon (919693) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @06:48PM (#38296544)
    Wasn't the Oort cloud supposed to be the edge of the Solar System, and that's still a few trillion miles off.
  • 11 Billion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyachallenge (2521604) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @06:50PM (#38296566)

    Voyager 1 is travelling at just under 11 miles per second and sending information from nearly 11 billion miles away from the sun.

    This reminds me of just how big space is. What absurd distances we're talking about now. I can't be but at awe and terror when I think of the stars.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dkleinsc (563838)

      "Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space, listen..." -HHGTG

    • Re:11 Billion (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:03PM (#38296742) Journal
      It's even more alarming because Voyager is 11 billion miles away and still might as well just be down the corner getting a pack of smokes in terms of its location relative to known concentrations of anything. 1.1*10^10 miles is a lot; but the nearest extrasolar star system is on the order of 2.5*10^13...
    • Re:11 Billion (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:14PM (#38296866) Journal
      11 billion miles sounds like a long way when phrased like that. It doesn't sound so far when you write it as 16.4 light-hours, and remember that the nearest star is about 4.35 light years away. Or, to put it another way, it's travelled 0.043% of the distance from here to Alpha Centauri and is the furthest man-made object away from us. That really puts into perspective how much further (or, rather, faster) we have to go for interstellar space travel to be possible.
    • by Deadstick (535032) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:14PM (#38296868)

      Shit, some of those distances are astronomical.

      rj

    • by lennier (44736)

      I can't be but at awe and terror when I think of the stars.

      They say Aldebaran once killed a man at Rigel, just to see him die.

      It's Proxima Centauri on the phone. He's calling from inside the Oort Cloud!

      And then the hitchhiker turned around, and instead of a main-sequence class F, it was a red giant!

  • This news again? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SecurityTheatre (2427858) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @06:50PM (#38296578)

    It's really really cool that Voyager is still going, but this talk of crossing into the heliosheath, etc seems to be dragged out a bit (yes, it's a vague and slow transition, I understand...)

    http://science.slashdot.org/story/05/05/24/2334240/voyager-1-crosses-the-termination-shock [slashdot.org]
    http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/12/02/0243246/voyager-probes-give-us-ets-view [slashdot.org]
    http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/12/14/1451216/voyager-1-beyond-solar-wind [slashdot.org]
    http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/04/28/2314203/voyager-set-to-enter-interstellar-space [slashdot.org]

  • Here's a nice picture [blogspot.com]
  • by jd (1658) <imipak@yaCOLAhoo.com minus caffeine> on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:03PM (#38296748) Homepage Journal

    They are hoping to get data on spectral lines not visible from within the solar system, with Voyager 1 now outside the solar system, but they're running into power budget issues. The battery is very, very low on juice, and with AAA not operating that far out, there's no chance of it getting any more. Data collected will therefore be rather more limited than NASA would like, but since existent data is zero any data will be an improvement.

  • by youn (1516637) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:05PM (#38296766) Homepage

    With updated equipment, high resolution sensors/ cameras.... heck even put on a hubble like telescope while we're at it... a dozen of these in all directions.... that would definitely kick ass... >

  • Beautiful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Oqnet (159295) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:13PM (#38296854)
    I read this and I got chills. This is amazing to think that we, even if we ourselves physically have done it have left our solar system. This to me is my moon landing I can't wait to hear what they find once they pass the bubble shell.
  • by dtmos (447842) * on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:28PM (#38297008)

    The amazing thing (well, one of the amazing things) about the Voyager program is the communication link. Voyager's signal, as received on Earth, is almost unbelievably weak.

    One can use the Friis Transmission Equation [wikipedia.org] to see just how weak the signal from Voyager 1 is at the moment:

    Pr = Pt * Gt * Gr * (lambda/(4 * pi * R))^2, where

    Pr is received power, in watts;
    Pt is transmitted power, in watts;
    Gt is the gain of the transmitting antenna, relative to an isotropic source (a unit-less value);
    Gr is the gain of the receiving antenna (one of the 70m DSN antennas), relative to an isotropic source (a unit-less value);
    lambda is the operating wavelength, in meters, and equal to c/f, or very close to 300/fM, where fM is the operating frequency in MHz;
    and R is the range (distance) in meters.

    Pt = 18 watts [nasa.gov] (assuming this hasn't degraded over time and distance);
    Gt = 48 dBi [nasa.gov], or about 63100;
    Gr = 74 dBi [nasa.gov], or about 25.1*10^6;
    fM = 8420 MHz [nasa.gov], so lambda = 300/fM = 0.0356 meters; and
    R = 17,545,000,000 km [nasa.gov], or 1.75 * 10^13 meters.

    Grinding all this out, one is left with a received signal strength -- at the terminals of a 70-meter dish, mind you -- of:

    Pr = 18 * 63100 * 25.1*10^6 * (0.0356/(4 * pi * 1.75 * 10^13))^2 = 7.45 * 10^(-19) watts, or 745 -- wait for it -- zeptowatts [wikipedia.org].

    This is equal to -181.3 dBW, or -151.3 dBm. (I don't know how many Libraries of Congress that is.)

    In the year 2020, when the probe's power generator is expected to expire, the probe will be about 2 * 10^13 meters away from Earth; using the same calculation the signal will have weakened slightly, to 5.73 * 10^(-19) watts, or 573 zeptowatts, -182.4 dBW, or -152.4 dBm.

    (Unless I've made some trivial calculation error, of course.)

  • by zill (1690130) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:40PM (#38297146)

    'We've been using the flow of energetic charged particles at Voyager 1 as a kind of wind sock to estimate the solar wind velocity. We've found that the wind speeds are low in this region and gust erratically. For the first time, the wind even blows back at us.

    Arrrgh, trim yer sails, and steady on, mate.

    Next fortnight we shall leave the solar system and finally escape from the RIAA.

    • by lennier (44736)

      'We've been using the flow of energetic charged particles at Voyager 1 as a kind of wind sock to estimate the solar wind velocity. We've found that the wind speeds are low in this region and gust erratically. For the first time, the wind even blows back at us.

      Arrrgh, trim yer sails, and steady on, mate.

      Obligatory interactive fiction link:

      Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home [eblong.com]

  • by Delirium Tremens (214596) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:41PM (#38297156) Journal
    Of course, it would travel well with a name like 'Voyager'. It is not like we had called it Phobos-Grunt. I mean, come on, phobos means 'fear' in Greek. And grunt, well, that just does not sound good.
  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:08PM (#38297498)
    I'm pretty excited for when Voyager crashes into the wall at the edge of creation. Then all the angels will fly in and all the sinners who believe in dinosaurs will be SOORRRY.
  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:44PM (#38298422) Homepage Journal

    Its last message was, oddly enough, "So long and thanks for all the fish".

  • by Snaller (147050) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @11:55PM (#38299340) Journal

    They are entering the slow zone!

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