NASA’s Voyager 1 probe should take another 300 years to reach the most remote region of our solar system. Until then, it sails through the void between the stars.

An artist's concept of NASA's Voyager spacecraft against a backdrop of stars.

An artist’s concept of NASA’s Voyager spacecraft against a backdrop of stars.NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Voyagers 1 and 2 explore a mysterious region between the stars called interstellar space.

  • NASA launched the twin probes in 1977 on a five-year mission to roam the solar system.

  • According to the space agency, it should take Voyager 1,40,000 years to reach another star.

About 14.8 billion miles from Earth, Voyager 1 travels through the blackness of the interstellar medium – the unexplored space between stars. It is the farthest man-made object from our planet.

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched in 1977, 16 days apart, and have a lifetime of five years to study Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and their moons up close.

Now, after 45 years of their mission, each of them has made history by bravely crossing the limit of our sun’s influence, known as the heliopause.

Both brave spacecraft continue to send data from beyond the solar system – and their space journeys are not over yet.

A diagram of both NASA's Voyager probes in interstellar space, as of November 2018.

A diagram of both NASA’s Voyager probes in interstellar space, as of November 2018.NASA/JPL-Caltech

In 300 years Voyager 1 may see the Oort Cloud, and in 296,000 years Voyager 2 may pass Sirius

As part of ongoing energy management efforts that have intensified in recent years, engineers have been shutting down non-technical systems aboard the Voyager probes, such as science instrument heaters, hoping to keep them on until 2030.

After that, the probes will likely lose their ability to communicate with Earth.

However, even after NASA shuts down its instruments and ends the Voyager mission, the twin probes will continue to drift through interstellar space.

NASA said that in about 300 years Voyager 1 should enter the Oort Cloud, a hypothetical spherical band full of billions of frozen comets. It should take another 30,000 years to come to an end.

Illustration of the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud as they relate to our solar system.

Illustration of the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud as they relate to our solar system.NASA

Spaceships follow different paths as they venture into outer space. Voyager 2 is currently only 12.3 billion miles from Earth.

According to NASA, it should take Voyager 1 about 40,000 years to reach AC+79 3888, a star in the constellation Camelopardalis.

The agency added that in about 296,000 years, Voyager 2 should drift past Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

“The Voyagers are destined – perhaps forever – to roam the Milky Way,” NASA said.

Hubble Space Telescope image of Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky.

Hubble Space Telescope image of Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky.NASA, ESA, H. Bond (STScI) and M. Barstow (University of Leicester)

“It’s really remarkable that both spacecraft are still operational”

NASA has designed a twin spacecraft to explore the outer solar system. After completing their primary mission, the Voyagers continued to crawl, taking a grand tour of our solar system and capturing breathtaking cosmic vistas.

On February 14, 1990, Voyager 1 captured the “Pale Blue Dot” image from nearly 4 billion miles away. This iconic photo of Earth in a diffused ray of sunlight is the farthest view of Earth recorded by any spacecraft.

The iconic

The iconic “Pale Blue Dot” image taken by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990.NASA/JPL-Caltech

For the past decade, Voyager 1 has explored interstellar space, which is full of gas, dust and charged energetic particles. Voyager 2 reached interstellar space in 2018, six years after its twin.

Their observations of the interstellar gas they are moving through have revolutionized astronomers’ understanding of this unexplored space beyond our cosmic backyard.

“It’s really remarkable that both spacecraft are still up and running well – small glitches, but they’re working very well and still sending out this valuable data,” Suzanne Dodd, project manager for the Voyager mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Insider, adding: “They still they talk to us.”

Read the original article in Business Insider

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *