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It's Official: Voyager 1 Is an Interstellar Probe 218

Posted by timothy
from the take-that-former-soviet-union dept.
astroengine writes "After a 35-year, 11-billion mile journey, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft left the solar system to become the first human-made object to reach interstellar space, new evidence from a team of scientists shows. 'It's kind of like landing on the moon. It's a milestone in history. Like all science, it's exploration. It's new knowledge,' long-time Voyager scientist Donald Gurnett, with the University of Iowa, told Discovery News. The first signs that the spacecraft had left the solar system's heliopause was a sudden drop in solar particles and a corresponding increase in cosmic rays in 2012, but this evidence alone wasn't conclusive. Through indirect means, scientist analyzing oscillations along the probe's 10-meter (33-foot) antennas were able to deduce that Voyager was traveling through a less dense medium — i.e. interstellar space." You can watch NASA's briefing on the probe's progress here.
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It's Official: Voyager 1 Is an Interstellar Probe

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 12, 2013 @03:00PM (#44833187)

    http://xkcd.com/1189/

  • by jomama717 (779243) <jomama717@gmail.com> on Thursday September 12, 2013 @03:02PM (#44833211) Journal
    With everything going on in the world I'm reminded of a hopeful quote:

    "In vain does the God of War growl, snarl, roar, and try to interrupt with bombards, trumpets, and his whole tarantantaran ... let us despise the barbaric neighings which echo through these noble lands, and awaken our understanding and longing for the harmonies."

    - Johannes Kepler
    • by tyrione (134248)

      With everything going on in the world I'm reminded of a hopeful quote: "In vain does the God of War growl, snarl, roar, and try to interrupt with bombards, trumpets, and his whole tarantantaran ... let us despise the barbaric neighings which echo through these noble lands, and awaken our understanding and longing for the harmonies." - Johannes Kepler

      Ironically, Kepler was a Monotheist so his own thoughts speak with equal measure to the paganism of the past.

  • Congrats! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Metabolife (961249) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @03:02PM (#44833213)
    In a few billion years, some distant alien's house is going to have this thing pummeling through the roof.
  • Well, this is, what, the 3rd time it's been 'official'?

    I think I'll wait a few months before I believe it's officially official.

    That's not to say this isn't highly cool -- I just am quite certain I've seen several variations on this over the last few years.

  • NASA Visualization (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 12, 2013 @03:06PM (#44833253)

    NASA appears to have a nice visualization of the spacecraft's position and the particle flux...

    http://eyes.nasa.gov/launch2.html?document=$SERVERURL/content/documents/voyager/voyager_exit.html

  • by realmolo (574068) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @03:07PM (#44833263)

    We have plenty of our own problems here on Earth! Why is a government-built probe going into interstellar space? Is Obama trying to make health-care truly "universal"? I suppose if our own "illegal aliens" get free health care, why shouldn't Andromedans?

    Keep alien overlords out of my health care!

  • by asmkm22 (1902712) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @03:19PM (#44833379)

    Seems like every few months, for the last 5 years, there's been a new claim that it has left the solar system.

  • Persis Kambatta is not dead. She's going to return some day...
  • Putin to America: You're Not Special [cnn.com]

    I'm sorry, Mr. Putin. I can't hear you over the sound of our own awesome.

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @03:29PM (#44833477)

    Seventy four year old Harold Lippschitz, chief proponent and designer of Voyager's antenna oscillation meters, was quoted as saying, "Ha ha! They laughed at me years ago at NASA! I told them, 'You're gonna want those damn oscillation meters, they're important!', but the other guys just rolled their eyes and shook their heads. 'There goes Harold again,' they said. 'Jabbering about his damn little meters.' Well, who's laughing now, motherf***ers? Ha HA!"

  • If reaching interstellar space and was the original goal, they could have flown in a direction perpendicular to the principal orbital plane of the solar system. We would have achieved the goal almost immediately.
  • It's Arbitrary: Voyager 1 Is An Interstellar Probe, Probably

  • Alright, who is probing my intersteller?

  • I think they just gave up trying to quantify if it has actually left the solar system after years of false positives and debate, so they just made it official. 99.999999999% of us are not going to check, so its safe bet.

    Slightly off topic, but now that Voyager has officially left the solar system, I hope that NASA could spend some time and explain to JJ Abrams that the Enterprise would not actually leave vapor trails that flutter and make a tinkling sound when it goes to warp since light does not crystalli

  • Beware all carbon-based life forms infecting planet Earth: ST:TMP [imdb.com]

    [after Spock comments that, mentally, V'ger is a child]
    Commander Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, M.D.: Spock, this "child" is about to wipe out every living thing on Earth. Now, what do you suggest we do? Spank it?
    Commander Spock: It knows only that it needs, Commander. But, like so many of us... it does not know what.

  • Voyager shall return to Earth from the Delta Quadrant with a non-plussed Captain, an uptight Hologram, a pointy eared Brother and a Cyborg.

    Or was that Red Dwarf?

  • by DRMShill (1157993) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @04:12PM (#44834003)

    Nasa launches this probe, about the same year that I was born, to study Saturn and Jupiter. Everything goes beautifully so it just keeps on flying. On Valentine's day 1990 just as it's about to leave the solar system they spin the camera around to take the "family portrait". Today it exits the solar system(I know for the 12th time or whatever). Now it just wanders off into the darkness while it's reactor runs down and it's systems shut off one at a time. Who knows, in a few billion years when the sun bakes this planet the golden record might be all that's left of us. Kind of like "The Inner Light" episode of Star Trek, but with less flute.

    • by Patch86 (1465427) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @05:56PM (#44835071)

      Who knows, in a few billion years when the sun bakes this planet the golden record might be all that's left of us. Kind of like "The Inner Light" episode of Star Trek, but with less flute.

      Should be pointed out that this is the first, not the only, man made object on a straight course for interstellar space. It will be joined not only by it's sister Voyager probe, but also the Pioneer 10 & 11 probes with their golden plaques, and the New Horizons mission with its CD. All in all, we're getting pretty good at littering the cosmos with our civilization's mementos.

      • by baKanale (830108)
        Yeah, but Pioneer 11 doesn't really count towards the whole "this is how the universe will remember us" thing, since the Klingons are going to use it for target practice at the beginning of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
        • by TMB (70166)

          There was no Star Trek V - it jumped straight from IV to VI! Now if only they'd make the prequels to the Star Wars movies...

          [TMB]

      • Should be pointed out that this is the first, not the only, man made object on a straight course for interstellar space. It will be joined not only by it's sister Voyager probe, but also the Pioneer 10 & 11 probes with their golden plaques, and the New Horizons mission with its CD. All in all, we're getting pretty good at littering the cosmos with our civilization's mementos.

        Let's see. Five pieces of litter. Volume of space littered (once they all cross into interstellar space): ((Pi*(24 billion miles)^3)/6)/5 = one peice of litter per 1.45*10^30 cubic miles. That is one piece of litter per 1.45 million trillion trillion cubic miles.

        You call that littering!?* We need to do at least a trillion trillion times better than that!

        *Where is my interrobang key when I need it?

  • Dupe! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Solandri (704621) on Thursday September 12, 2013 @04:23PM (#44834137)
    This story has already appeared on Slashdot multiple times:

    March 2013 [slashdot.org]
    December 2011 [slashdot.org]
    December 2010 [slashdot.org]
    May 2005 [slashdot.org]
    November 2003 [slashdot.org]

    Is it too much to ask that the editors do their jobs and search for dupes before approving a submission?
    • by DRMShill (1157993)

      I'm not sure if you're joking or not but just in case you aren't, we don't have a completely solid understanding of where exactly the solar system ends. That's why this comes up like this. Well that and slashdot dupes.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      Nicely done, and EXACTLY what I was thinking...

      I COULD read TFA, but no. I think I'll wait until next week, when some NASA scientist announces that Voyager I is STILL in the solar system, and why the theory/sensors/calculations were wrong. Then the week after that, NASA will announce again that Voyager I is in interstellar space "for real this time..." Repeat, ad-nauseum.

    • by melikamp (631205)
      They are not dupes: the story is truer every time.
  • No, it's not (Score:2, Interesting)

    by J'raxis (248192)

    No, it's not. It's kind of like landing on the moon only if they claimed they "landed" on the moon 1000km from the surface, and kept reporting that once again they've "landed" on the moon (officially now!) every 5km thereafter.

  • This is probably not the first human made object to reach interstellar space.
    The real furthest object is a man hole cover.

    During testing of nuclear weapons they were doing tests underground. They had a nuclear weapon at the bottom of a long shaft.
    On top of the shaft was a metal cap.

    It's not known how fast it is going or if it actually left the atmosphere but if it did survive it would have been going really fast

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plumbbob [wikipedia.org]

  • 11 billion miles / 35 years / 365 days / 24 hours = 35,877 miles per hour.

    The fastest plane that has ever flown on earth is the SR71 blackbird [wikipedia.org] and it topped out at around 2,200 mph. This humble probe beat it by a long shot.

    Of course, Voyager doesn't have to worry much about friction, or gravity... But still an impressive speed.
  • Off on it's way to become V'ger, come back looking for its creator, build a probe in the image of a carbon unit, then merge with a carbon unit, leave our dimension, and finally, some suspect, go psychotic and eventually evolve into the Borg.

  • Summary appears to be wrong.
    "...were able to deduce that Voyager was traveling through a less dense medium — i.e. interstellar space."

    Interstellar space is apparently 40 times more dense than space in the solar system. The solar wind pushes the particles back to the edge of the solar system, making the plasma more dense at the edge (not less dense).

    To quote from NASA
    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-277 [nasa.gov]
    "Voyager 1's plasma wave instrument detected the movement. The pitch of the oscilla

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