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Space NASA

Voyager 1 May Be Caught Inside an Interstellar Flux Transfer Event 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-least-it's-not-stuck-in-the-delta-quadrant dept.
KentuckyFC writes "Last month, NASA declared that Earth's most distant probe had finally left the Solar System. But the announcement may now turn out to be premature. It was prompted by a dramatic increase in the density of plasma in the region of space the spacecraft is now in. However, there has been no change in the local magnetic field, which is what astrophysicists would expect if Voyager had entered interstellar space. Instead, space scientists think the probe may be caught inside a magnetic portal known as an interstellar flux transfer event. This occurs when the magnetic fields from two different objects briefly become connected through a tube-like magnetic structure. This process happens between the Earth and Sun's magnetic field about every eight minutes, so similar events are expected between the Sun's field and the interstellar field. This magnetic tube would allow particles in from outside the Solar System, increasing the density of plasma, while maintaining the same magnetic field. If so, Voyager 1 hasn't yet left the Solar System after all."
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Voyager 1 May Be Caught Inside an Interstellar Flux Transfer Event

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:34PM (#45018587)
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I've always wondered if that comic is a static image, or if it actually accurately represents the number of times Voyager 1 has left the solar system, and gets updated.
      • Static image, most likely. You tend to know when it isn't because it's either obvious or on the news.

    • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:55PM (#45018875) Journal

      Doc: Bye, Marty! Yaaa hoooo! It worked! It worked! I sent him out of the solar system!

      Marty McVoyager in a different shirt runs up behind him: Doc! I'm back.

      Doc: Guuuuuuuuuhhhhhh!!!!!

      Marty: I'm back. I'm back from interstellar space!

      Doc: Great Scott! It must be the interstellar flux transit event capacitor!

    • If you know the exact distance where the solar system ends, please inform the people working on the Voyager program and save them the trouble. The fact that a human-made object is actively exploring the edges of our solar system and returning data to Earth is amazing.

      • It used to be the long axis of Pluto's orbit, in my book. And since Pluto is still a planet, in my book, then there you have it.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          What if there's a planetoid of slightly larger mass than Pluto, about a third of the distance out again? Is that in interstellar space? Good job.

      • by drkim (1559875)

        If you know the exact distance where the solar system ends, please inform the people working on the Voyager program and save them the trouble...

        This is all so arbitrary and semantic.

        All we have to do is declare Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune to no longer be planets, and then we can say that Voyager left the Solar System when it passed the orbit apogee of Mars.

    • by bondsbw (888959) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @05:34PM (#45019457)

      Voyager has simply entered the quantum superposition layer of our solar system, where it is inside the solar system, in interstellar space, maybe somewhere between, a dead cat, and a live mega-spaceship, all at the same time.

    • *Sigh* Now he's got to update it again...

    • Funny and quite accurate as well. I was just thinking "This means that we'll see yet another new regarding Voyager I leaving the solar system"!

    • by Bite The Pillow (3087109) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @12:22AM (#45022307)

      We keep discovering NEW SHIT. There's new shit out there, and we keep finding it. We don't know what it means because we haven't left the fucking SOLAR SYSTEM before. It's kind of a big deal.

      Science is pretty much built on being wrong, and looking at the data again, and fixing whatever was wrong. One team studies something and one signal is gone, so we left the solar system. But another team looks at different data and we haven't.

      Imagine coming across from China, seeing Hawaii, and seeing an island. The new world! Oops, that was just an island, next one is new world. Oops, next one. Oops, next one. Wait, where did the land go? LAND! Oh crap, it's a bay. There's land! FINALLY!

      It's like playing the old game "is this my ass or another roll of fat?" Or the relatively new game "is that a hot chick or Fabio?" or "is this movie going to be any good?" or "is this story a dupe?" or "where does the pee pee go for sexy time?"

      You are going to lose plenty of times before winning. That's how we find completely new shit about the universe. Is that a human like species, or a chimpanzee that will rip my face off? I don't know it's fucking new! It might eat me and digest me and shit me out and throw my turd corpse at zoo visitors, because the other visitors laugh and I think it's what I should be doing. Someone has to die for science, I'd rather be behind someone, applauding and pushing them into certain death.

      But when that guy dies, I'm going to write down how he died, so that the next poor fucker doesn't die exactly the same way. More information, more new shit that we didn't know before. Go for it, die for science, and let's all LEARN SHIT.

  • It sounds like they have a problem with their flux capacitor.
  • by rubmytummy (677080) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:37PM (#45018617)
    Raise your hand if you fell for it this time.
  • by fredrated (639554) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:41PM (#45018667) Journal

    Does this mean we have to go through another 'Voyager has now left the solar system' again?

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      Consolidate all such stories to make the hype more efficient: "Voyager has found dark water on Mars beyond the solar system".

    • by wallsg (58203)

      Does this mean we have to go through another 'Voyager has now left the solar system' again?

      At least it's not on its way back in the middle of a giant energy cloud.

    • by Horshu (2754893)
      And again in 30,000 years when Voyager gets past the Oort Cloud and *really* leaves the solar system.
  • It's simple. Time to whip out the Tachyon beam, remodulate the shield frequency and it's on its way again! Just what are they thinking..

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:43PM (#45018695)
    Holy shit, that could cause a resonance cascade! We should reverse the polarity of the neutron flow* immediately!

    * [wikipedia.org]
  • Easy fix... (Score:5, Funny)

    by superdave80 (1226592) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:44PM (#45018723)

    Just reverse the polarity, and all should be well.

    Shit always worked on Star Trek...

  • NASA PR machine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @05:01PM (#45018959) Homepage

    I thought the NASA PR machine was turned off due to the Government shutdown.

    • Forget PR. It's the data collection and analysis that really cost money. The Government is closed people-- that means shut off your computers and stop doing any work. I don't care if you miss a "once in a lifetime" scientific opportunity--it's against the law [wikipedia.org] to put your scientific interests ahead of partisan political squabbling.

    • by hobarrera (2008506) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @09:44PM (#45021565) Homepage

      This is just part of a cron script that send a news "Voyager I just left the solar system" once a month to the media. No human intervention required.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      The paper's authors aren't federal government employees, and were working with data pulled down from Voyager previously.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      It's almost as though this research didn't come out of NASA.

    • by Boronx (228853)

      Essential services are still operating.

  • I thought that it was stopped for the government shutdown?

    Serious question, are projects like Voyager, the Mars Rovers and all that still being actively monitored, or are they just being left to fend for themselves during the shutdown?

    • I thought that it was stopped for the government shutdown?

      Serious question, are projects like Voyager, the Mars Rovers and all that still being actively monitored, or are they just being left to fend for themselves during the shutdown?

      NASA has Howard Wolowitz and Raj Koothrappali monitoring the Mars rovers. But Voyager is on it's own.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I can't find any information on exactly who that is, but considering the importance of some projects I imagine those other 3% are there for a reason.

  • I hope that Voyager finished to leave the solar system by the time it reaches Andromeda.
    • by rossdee (243626)

      "I hope that Voyager finished to leave the solar system by the time it reaches Andromeda."

      I think that Andromeda will reach voyager first (Its due to collide with the milky way in a billion years or so)

  • See, they didn't vote the budget, and shutdown the government, and not the voyager 1 probe can't leave the solar system !

    It's a conspiracy !!!

  • Right now, there is a space alien laughing its ass off while it pulls voyager back into our solar system with a magnetic tractor beam.

    HUR HUR HUR! EARTHLINGS FUNNY!!!!

  • They think reversing the connectors on Voyager's sensors is a big joke.

  • by petsounds (593538) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @05:58PM (#45019731)

    Honestly, I'm more fascinated by this. What effects does this have on the Earth's magnetic field?

  • ... I still cared about the status of Voyager 1. Perhaps it still hasn't left the nest, probably all set up in the basement playing GTA V.

    Personally, I am delighted at the name of this phenomenon, whoever made up that phrase was clearly watching too much science fiction that week, or more likely not enough. "Interstellar flux transfer event" ... can you not see that in a future SF script? "Captain, we are caught in an interstellar flux transfer event, if we don't break free we will [go back in time | be tra

  • Can we launch a faster probe to catch up to and pass by Voyager? One with up to date instrumentation. Would that tell us anything?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      XKCD 'What if [xkcd.com]' to the rescue!
      Short answer, yes we could but it will take a long time to catch up. Voyager has a 35 year head start.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        True. But is somehow it became important to do so, the technology we have today using ion engines and solar sails and such could make it possible to launch a costly vehicle that accelerated far longer. It could accelerate for years actually, and develop a much faster rate of acceleration. The original Voyager, and most subsequent deep space vehicles, are designed to be the most economical possible and get the job done. If the job was to catch up and pass it, and the budget were sufficient, that could be

  • We witnessed a space-sponge spontaneously move more than six feet!

  • by Tablizer (95088)

    Khaaaaaaan!

    Oh, wait.

  • "Flux Transfer Event"? Yeah right. Caused by a failing Flux Capacitor, no doubt.

  • by dk20 (914954)
    Can the slashdot guys put together some sort of scheduled job to post a "Voyager has left the solar system" every few days? Might save the editors a few minutes posting the article. Don't forget to include a number of AC's posting the "Obligatory XKCD" link
  • It can't go any further 'cause the government shutdown.
  • We're all going to find out there's some still-unexplained phenomenon where every object outside the solar system is actually much closer than it appears to us do to this flux event that distorts everything. We are told by the world's brightest scientists that everything is goddamn far away. Voyager 1 is going to go out and prove that all wrong. We used to think the Earth is flat.

    • "We're all going to find out there's some still-unexplained phenomenon where every object outside the solar system is actually much closer than it appears to us"

      And then, a bit later, we'll recieve a deep WOOOOONNNNNK! as Voyager hits the Celestial Sphere.

  • Who knew? I mean besides Ted Stevens of course.

  • The claim that Voyager 1 has left the Solar System is incorrect. Voyager 1 was thought to have entered the interstellar medium, but it may be another 30,000 years before it crosses out of the Oort Cloud and finally leaves the Solar System.
  • "Caught" would imply that it can't exit the area or phenomenon. In fact it seems to be traveling through the phenomenon. It would be really interesting if its vector chaged, and I thought that was what the headline meant.
  • So, it seems Voyager is still on the "magnetic highway" after all. I seem to recall during the discussion of the "magnetic highway" that some scientists were waiting for a change in the magnetic field [slashdot.org] before they claimed to have left the solar system. Somehow that got ignored when the plasma density data came out.
    • So, it seems Voyager is still on the "magnetic highway" after all. I seem to recall during the discussion of the "magnetic highway" that some scientists were waiting for a change in the magnetic field [slashdot.org] before they claimed to have left the solar system. Somehow that got ignored when the plasma density data came out.

      Wouldn't it be magnificent if beyond the gravitational and magnetic bounds of our solar system there existed galactic plasma winds driven on lines of magnetic fields. Perhaps interstellar travel is truly sailing within the confines of the galaxy. It would be wonderfully poetic if our first interstellar explorations were actually somewhat akin to our first intercontinental ones.

      There is poetry in science and nature and oft times there is rhyme, as witness the beauty of a Fibonacci sequence in math or the won

  • 1.21 Jiggawatts!!
  • Just realign the flux capacitor, adjust the Heisenberg compensators, reverse the polarity, and whatever you do NEVER cross the streams and Voyager should be just fine. Really, it's that simple.

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