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Space Science

New Signs Voyager Is Nearing Interstellar Space 168

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:44AM (#40332415)

    Dr. Stone was our first-quarter Physics Profession at Caltech [] in the Fall of 1982, where I was at first an Astronomy Major the, when I realized what I liked about telescopes was making them rather than looking through them, I changed my major to Physics.

    Things didn't work out for me in the long run at Caltech, so in the end I graduated from UC Santa Cruz. I don't have my Doctorate yet but I did well in what graduate school I did attend.

    Tsutomu Shimomura, of Kevin Mitnick fame and I were close friends at Caltech. Tsutomu and I met at Frosh Camp, the Freshman Orientation carried out at a Summer Camp on Catalina Island, out in the Pacific. It was quite cool.

    Did you know that Tsutomu is a nuclear weapons designer, yet never obtained any manner of college degree, let alone a PhD? The chances are pretty good he never graduated high school.

    While I graduated high school, my grades were quite poor as I have totally blown off all forms of formal education I have ever had anything to do with.

    Caltech doesn't care whether you so much as graduated kindergarten you see, provided you demonstrably have the insight to do original research.

    Tsutomu was on the verge of flunking out of Tech as he could never be bothered to do his homework, when the nuclear weapons community got wind of his interest in Theoretical Physics, largely published in colloboration with 1965 Nobel Physics Laureate Richard Feynman. The result was that every weapons lab in the Free World started hurling job offers at him. Tsutomu figured designing Hydrogen Bombs would be quite cool, so he eventually accepted Los Alamos' offer. His first job there, which I believe was unclassified and so openly published, was designing a hardware cellular automaton that was specialized for the purpose of modeling supersonic air flow. One can use it for designing fighter planes or reentry vehicles.

    "It costs about the same as a Cray," Tsutomu explained one day, "But it does just that one calculation at a thousand times the speed of a Cray."

    MichaelCrawford [], who can't be bothered to recover his password.

  • "Interesting. Compare my data 4 high-energy nucleons w V1's That increase is attracting attention!"

    I've tried four times and can't parse that string, let alone make sense of it. Can someone from the appropriate generation translate it for me, please?

    "Interesting. Compare my [Voyager 2's] data for high-energy nucleons with Voyager 1's [data for high-energy nucleons]. That increase [that is, the increase shown in Voyager 2's high-energy nucleon data over Voyager 1's high-energy nucleon data] is attracting attention!"

  • by Herve5 ( 879674 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:29AM (#40333019)

    I remember when the Huygens probe landed on Titan (Huygens, from the Cassini/Huygens mission: [] )

    I was part of the Huygens team, and I really experience a special moment as concerns time:
    - building the Probe had been quite a long period in my own life (years)
    - once launched, the travel from Earth to Saturn lasted *seven years* : enough for you to deeply change your business occupation, and mostly loose contact with your former team, customer team, science team
    - then what was happening at that very time was, due to Earth/Saturn distance, transmitting the probe entry and descent data would last *longer than the real descent itself* : in other words, you were still waiting to see whether the thing you'd spent years in the building didn't just burn upon atmosphere entry, while you *knew* everything over there was finished already.

    So believe me, this feeling of meeting back with friends lost for 10 years, to listen what your device may have sent some hours ago knowing that at present indeed all the adventure has been over for one hour... that was very special.

    Also, the explanations of this to the journalists in the ground station rooms by your average public relation guy was definitely funny to watch :-D

  • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 15, 2012 @06:56AM (#40333331)

    They know where voyager is.

    They don't know where interstellar space is.

  • by MindCrusher ( 1249502 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @07:15AM (#40333411)
    Acutally it's the increase in the particles/sec measured by Voyager-1 in the last months compared to the lack of a similar increase in the same data for Voyager-2. V1 is further away form the Sun and the decrease in the sollar wind intensity probably translates in more GCR (galactic cosmic rays) reaching that region of space when compared to the position of V2.
  • by Fiztaru ( 990211 ) on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:38PM (#40339697)

    From NASA's Voyager mission site (link here: []):

    The sensitivity of our deep-space tracking antennas located around the world is truly amazing. The antennas must capture Voyager information from a signal so weak that the power striking the antenna is only 10 exponent -16 watts (1 part in 10 quadrillion). A modern-day electronic digital watch operates at a power level 20 billion times greater than this feeble level.

    One ten-quadrillionth of a watt.

    Yeah, "truly amazing" doesn't even begin to cover it. You're right; it IS mindblowing.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley