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Space Science

New Signs Voyager Is Nearing Interstellar Space 168

Posted by samzenpus
from the great-beyond dept.
sighted writes "Yesterday, someone tweeting for the Voyager 2 spacecraft posted: 'Interesting. Compare my data 4 high-energy nucleons w V1's That increase is attracting attention!' Today, NASA says that scientists looking at this rapid rise draw closer to an inevitable but historic conclusion — that humanity's first emissary to interstellar space is on the edge of our solar system. Project scientist Ed Stone said, 'The latest data indicate that we are clearly in a new region where things are changing more quickly. It is very exciting. We are approaching the solar system's frontier.'"
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New Signs Voyager Is Nearing Interstellar Space

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  • hello? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ankhank (756164) * on Friday June 15, 2012 @12:00AM (#40331971) Journal

    I am really hoping that once Voyager gets outside the local sun's bubble, it picks up a dial tone.

    After all, what makes more sense than modulating the background, and talking only to species smart enough to pick it up, by getting outside their local bubble?

    My guess is most species would have been a little slower to send a probe out that far, and grown up a bit more in the meantime.

    But maybe.

  • by three27 (806894) on Friday June 15, 2012 @12:05AM (#40331989)
    I listened to a Radiolab episode several weeks ago, it originally aired in February 2012. However it definitely brought me up to speed on what they've been seeing out there. It's well worth the listen. Only about 20 minutes long.

    "Is There an Edge to the Heavens?" [radiolab.org]

  • Re:And then ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aevan (903814) on Friday June 15, 2012 @01:34AM (#40332373)
    Personally be more amused if just after it breaches the boundary we lose contact with it...
    only for some amateur astronomer to detect a tiny object entering our solar system from the exact opposite side.
  • Re:And then ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Friday June 15, 2012 @01:45AM (#40332419) Journal

    I'd be more amused if it flies back and tries to contact the whales. Or perhaps if its speed slows more and more, only to eventually fall back towards the sun again.

  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Friday June 15, 2012 @03:39AM (#40332819) Homepage

    It takes nearly 17 hours for the data to get back from Voyager 1 to us. Now here on Earth we rarely run into significant delays in communications caused by the speed of light - geostationary satellites are one example, and moonbounce [wikipedia.org] is another. But even bouncing signals off of the moon only delays them by about two and a half seconds, and you need to transmit hundreds of watts into a very high gain aerial array to catch the tiny sniff of a signal that bounces back from the moon, 236000 miles away.

    Okay, car analogy. On a dark night out in the country, look at a distant piece of road and watch for a car. From a mile or two off, its 21W brake light bulb seems pretty tiny and faint. Voyager 1's microwave link puts out about 20W, too.

    Now I want you to imagine looking for that brake light when it is 11.3 thousand million miles away.

  • by martas (1439879) on Friday June 15, 2012 @04:11AM (#40332943)

    Okay, car analogy. On a dark night out in the country, look at a distant piece of road and watch for a car. From a mile or two off, its 21W brake light bulb seems pretty tiny and faint. Voyager 1's microwave link puts out about 20W, too.

    Now I want you to imagine looking for that brake light when it is 11.3 thousand million miles away.

    Fucking mindblowing... Thanks for the analogy. It's beyond amazing that it's even theoretically possible to detect something like that, let alone practically.

  • Re:hello? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kookus (653170) on Friday June 15, 2012 @07:18AM (#40333689) Journal

    Only if we are communicating with V1 with a known mechanism that gets absorbed/reflected by the solar system's border. Since we detect electromagnetic radiation from other stars, we can safely say there's a high probability of us still being able to communicate with V1 after it leaves.

    Since we know we can receive electromagnetic radiation, and we are listening for it, then we haven't necessarily thought outside of the bubble enough to be listening to something else that would get reflected/absorbed by the border. In other words, we're not going to magically start receiving a different form of communication than what we already are detecting, because we just haven't gotten smart enough yet.

    I'd say we have a better chance of something picking up our little V1 on their monitors and come check us out!

  • by Foxhoundz (2015516) on Friday June 15, 2012 @09:43AM (#40334881)

    Assuming the Voyager and Pioneer probes don't get flung into a star, plummet into some super gas giant, or captured into orbit by any other celestial object, these probes may be our fist step in preserving our legacy into the future. Assuming Voyager is still intact with its present trajectory, it will reach the star AC+79 3888 in about 40,000 years [wikipedia.org].

    In 40,000 years, there's a good chance that humanity would have gone extinct for a plethora of reasons. It comforts me to know that we would not go the way of the dinosaurs, quietly into oblivion on a lonely corner of the Milky Way. Damn it, at least we tried.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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