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Voyager 1 Officially Exits Our Solar System

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the don't-forget-to-write dept.

NASA 237

An anonymous reader writes "A new study released today (abstract) indicates that the Voyager 1 spacecraft has become the first man-made object to exit our solar system. Instrumentation data sent back to NASA indicate the historic event likely occurred on August 25, 2012, evidenced by drastic changes in radiation levels as the craft ventured past the heliopause. What remains to be seen, however, is whether Voyager 1 has actually made it to true interstellar space, or whether it has entered a separate, undefined region beyond our solar system. Either way, the achievement is truly monumental. 'It's outside the normal heliosphere, I would say that. We're in a new region,' said Bill Webber, professor emeritus of astronomy at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. 'And everything we're measuring is different and exciting.'" Update: 03/20 20:44 GMT by S : Reader skade88 points out that the JPL Voyager team is not so sure: "It is the consensus of the Voyager science team that Voyager 1 has not yet left the solar system or reached interstellar space. In December 2012, the Voyager science team reported that Voyager 1 is within a new region called 'the magnetic highway' where energetic particles changed dramatically. A change in the direction of the magnetic field is the last critical indicator of reaching interstellar space and that change of direction has not yet been observed." So we'll probably be hearing about this again in a couple years.

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Hard to define (5, Funny)

Looker_Device (2857489) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225777)

I would say that "true interstellar space" was "outside the gravitational effect of our sun" but, technically, that's nowhere in the universe.

Re:Hard to define (0)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225811)

Well, if you really want to get THAT far... :)

Re:Hard to define (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43225817)

The edge of the solar system is considered by many to be the Oort cloud. That's about 1 light year from the Sun, and Voyager is not even remotely close.

Re:Hard to define (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43225919)

Its already pasted the ort cloud

Re:Hard to define (4, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225991)

He said "not even remotely close" not which side of it it was not close to.

Though:
Voyager 1 is in the process of escaping the solar system at a speed of about 523.6 million km per year, or about 1.4 million km per day. Even at this tremendous speed, Voyager 1 will take at least 14,000 years (and maybe twice that or even longer) to emerge from the Oort cloud. http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm?MCode=Voyager_1&Target=Beyond [nasa.gov]

Re:Hard to define (4, Insightful)

RichardtheSmith (157470) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226249)

Carl Sagan wrote a lot about the Oort cloud. It would be nice if we could get first-hand evidence of it. Unfortunately the nuclear power supply on Voyager will run out long before anything like that would be remotely possible.

I think the interesting question is, what would constitute evidence of the Oort cloud's actual existence? Every textbook and Wikipedia article I've read still describes it as a theoretical construct.

But yeah, it took us 40 years to get out to 130 AU, and astronomer's talk about comet dust being out as far as 50,000 AU. A humbling thought to be sure.

Re:Hard to define (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226001)

What did it paste it with?

Re:Hard to define (4, Informative)

Feyshtey (1523799) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226009)

From the NASA site :

If we define the solar system as the sun and everything that primarily orbits the sun, however, Voyager 1 will remain within the confines of the solar system until it emerges from the Oort cloud in another 14,000 to 28,000 years

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm?MCode=Voyager_1&Target=Beyond [nasa.gov]

Re:Hard to define (1, Informative)

Walking The Walk (1003312) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226103)

Its already pasted the ort cloud

No, according to NASA's Voyager project page [nasa.gov] , Voyager 1 won't escape the Oort cloud (really the outer Oort cloud) for another 14,000 - 28,000 years. (Probably due to running out of power in the next 10 to 15 years.)

Newton (5, Insightful)

stoploss (2842505) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226337)

Voyager 1 won't escape the Oort cloud (really the outer Oort cloud) for another 14,000 - 28,000 years. (Probably due to running out of power in the next 10 to 15 years.)

Perhaps I have misinterpreted your statement, but are you aware of Newton's First Law of Motion [wikipedia.org] ? Voyager has no need for power to continue its journey; running out of power will have no effect on its velocity.

My guess is that, aside from attitude adjustment, Voyager hasn't fired its thrusters since its encounter with Titan in 1980.

Re:Newton (1)

click2005 (921437) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226415)

I would think given it's distance to target an LED being lit (if it had any) might be enough for slight attitude adjustment.

Either way if it's forward velocity reduces to 0 we'll know we found the Oort cloud. :)

Re:Hard to define (1)

tragedy (27079) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225827)

Well, unless the universe does collapse someday, there should be parts of the universe that are being expanded away from us faster than the speed of light, which is also supposed to be the speed of gravity. We will never be able to observe those parts of the universe though.

Re:Hard to define (0)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226243)

Speed of light is relative, and cannot be broken. Space warps as one approaches the speed of light (relative), which is why anything that approaches the speed of light, doesn't ever reach it (relatively). It is mind bending concept, but in reality, you're essentially not accurate when you say "parts of the universe that are being expanded away from us faster than the speed of light".

Once you get to the point where you're looking at things being at or near the speed of light, our linear/3D view of the universe breaks. What if I told you, there is no "edge" of the universe ;)

Re:Hard to define (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226469)

It is mind bending concept, but in reality, you're essentially not accurate when you say "parts of the universe that are being expanded away from us faster than the speed of light".

Wrong.

In fact, some of the galaxies that we can see today are now expanding away from us faster than the speed of light. The light we see is from billions of years ago when they were not.

Re:Hard to define (5, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226547)

The galaxies are not moving relative to us, faster than the speed of light away from us. The space between us and those galaxies is growing, cumulatively, faster than the amount of time it would take light to cross that space. The Galaxies themselves may actually even be moving towards us. This is the cumulative effect of the very tiny expansion of the universe compounded by vast... nearly unfathomable distances. Eventually if the expansion continues, we'll not even be able to see nearby stars. But, of course, we'll all be dead long before that happens.

Re:Hard to define (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43225923)

Too bad NASA has a better definition [nasa.gov] of "true interstellar space."

Re:Hard to define (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226395)

Eventually, the Voyagers will pass other stars. In about 40,000 years, Voyager 1 will drift within 1.6 light years (9.3 trillion miles) of AC+79 3888, a star in the constellation of Camelopardalis. In some 296,000 years, Voyager 2 will pass 4.3 light years (25 trillion miles) from Sirius, the brightest star in the sky . The Voyagers are destined—perhaps eternally—to wander the Milky Way.

until it crashes on a nascent planet in some distant star system and the earth bacteria aboard it start to spread.

Re:Hard to define (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226537)

Would bacteria even be viable after 200K+ years of hibernation (that's assuming the hypothetical planet is capable of supporting them in the first place)?

Re:Hard to define (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43225949)

I would say that "true interstellar space" was "outside the gravitational effect of our sun" but, technically, that's nowhere in the universe.

Technically your wrong.

Re:Hard to define (1)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226235)

Ouch!

Re:Hard to define (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226403)

And technically "your" bad at english.

Re:Hard to define (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226023)

I would say that "true interstellar space" was "outside the gravitational effect of our sun" but, technically, that's nowhere in the observable universe.

FTFY.

Re:Hard to define (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226193)

The Universe beyond 4.6 billion light years away from the Sun [wikipedia.org] would disagree.

Re:Hard to define (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226223)

I'd say if it was outside of our star's sphere of influence [wikipedia.org] , then it would be in interstellar space (assuming it was not in another star's sphere of influence)

Re:Hard to define (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226439)

If that is the definition then it probably broke this around launch. You simply would have to apply more thrust than the escape velocity to get to the point where gravity of the sun will not bring the vehicle back. I see what you mean, but I think the fact that you can escape an always present force is more mind boggling.

I for one welcome our new (4, Funny)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225787)

V'ger overlord!

Re:I for one welcome our new (2)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226135)

That was actually Voyager 6 [memory-alpha.org] , launched in the late 20th century, around the time of the Crazy Years. Or is that another future history...can't think straight with all these images of hot bald chicks running through my mind.

Second! (0)

Kurast (1662819) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225799)

I would say first, but Voyager came in front of me.

Re:Second! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226593)

I would say first, but Voyager came in front of me.

Rule 34 on Voyager 1.

V'ger joke queue starts here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43225805)

HERE!

Take care out there Voyager (5, Insightful)

ravenswood1000 (543817) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225807)

You did really well.

Re:Take care out there Voyager (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226073)

And good luck in the new frontier

Re:Take care out there Voyager (1, Informative)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226089)

Lets all remember George Bush and the GOP proposed cutting [wikinews.org] this truly amazing program to save a paltry $4 million per year...

Re:Take care out there Voyager (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226247)

Wait, why does it cost $4 million a year to listen for and interpret the radio signal coming back?

Re:Take care out there Voyager (3, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226443)

It costs around 500 thousands for a dozen or so engineers and 3.5 millions for the RIAA broadcasting license.

Re:Take care out there Voyager (3, Funny)

Pope (17780) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226597)

Damnit, I knew putting that golden record on that thing would bring no good!

Re:Take care out there Voyager (4, Insightful)

White Flame (1074973) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226471)

Salaries of experts? Facilities with dedicated antennas and support personnel? Things add up quickly.

Re:Take care out there Voyager (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226483)

People are expensive.

Re:Take care out there Voyager (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226583)

I would guess that most of it goes towards maintaining legacy hardware. Maintaining 35 y/o computer systems and software isn't easy or cheap (think, if there is a problem with a power supply or chip then you have to usually get these sorts of things custom-made - installation is another problem). The rest probably goes towards salaries with a paltry amount dedicated for electricity and other utilities and employee consumables.

4,000,000 isn't much of a stretch when you consider a department of 10 in my company has a budget of that.

Re:Take care out there Voyager (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226619)

Wait, why does it cost $4 million a year to listen for and interpret the radio signal coming back?

Won't someone please think of the scientists!

Re:Take care out there Voyager (3, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226457)

Actually - if you read the article, it was NASA management that proposed the cuts... but go ahead, blame Bush. Bias and ignorance is ever so much easier than reading and comprehending.

Re:Take care out there Voyager (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226541)

NASA's Earth-Sun System division, which runs the program, amongst others, has had to cut its budget for next year from 74 million to 53 million dollars, calling for some project abandonments. The cuts for Voyager and other missions are planned to help fund President George W. Bush's "Vision for Space Exploration", his plan to return to the moon and a manned mission to Mars.

Re:Take care out there Voyager (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226429)

And watch out for those Kazons, Hirogens and Borgs.

Re:Take care out there Voyager (1)

jez9999 (618189) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226453)

This is nothing. Voyager is going to be pulled into the Delta quadrant soon.

Re:Take care out there Voyager (1)

nanospook (521118) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226563)

So long and thanks for all the fish!

Cue the Star Trek jokes in 3... 2... 1... (2)

sconeu (64226) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225823)

Of course, neither probe in the ST movies was Voyager 1.

ST:TMP was Voyager 6
STV:TFF was either Pioneer 10 or Pioneer 11.

Re:Cue the Star Trek jokes in 3... 2... 1... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43225889)

Get back in the queue! It's above!

Good grief! Some people!

Re:Cue the Star Trek jokes in 3... 2... 1... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226051)

No, cue. [wikipedia.org] It helps to be correct when you're correcting people.

Get the hell outta here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43225833)

Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.

Not so fast (5, Informative)

sighted (851500) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225847)

The Voyager project's chief scientist says not just yet: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-107 [nasa.gov] Also, here's a fairly recent video lecture he gave on the topic that gives some good details: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/lectures_archive.cfm?year=2012&month=9 [nasa.gov]

Re:Not so fast (2)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225963)

The Voyager project's chief scientist says not just yet: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-107 [nasa.gov] Also, here's a fairly recent video lecture he gave on the topic that gives some good details: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/lectures_archive.cfm?year=2012&month=9 [nasa.gov]

What is this the third time we had a story about it leaving the solar system? Some include the Oort Cloud in the solar system so are we facing hundreds of years of these announcements?

Re:Not so fast (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226017)

"We are in a magnetic region unlike any we've been in before -- about 10 times more intense than before the termination shock -- but the magnetic field data show no indication we're in interstellar space," said Leonard Burlaga, a Voyager magnetometer team member based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The magnetic field data turned out to be the key to pinpointing when we crossed the termination shock. And we expect these data will tell us when we first reach interstellar space."

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-381 [nasa.gov]

Re:Not so fast (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226105)

Use an Outlook email rule to move the notices to your Trash. Cuz Outlook will likely outlast Voyager... ;-)

Re:Not so fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226181)

The solar system ends where the sun's influence ends. That's the definition of a solar system. Oort cloud be damned.

Re:Not so fast (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226377)

Which influence? Heat? Light? Gravity? Magnetic? And at what point do we consider the influence ended? When there's no effect? Negligible effect? Very little effect?

Re:Not so fast (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226311)

What is this the third time we had a story about it leaving the solar system? Some include the Oort Cloud in the solar system so are we facing hundreds of years of these announcements?

No. We'd be facing thousands of years of these announcements. From NASA [nasa.gov] :

Sometime before the year 2020, Voyager 1 will become the first spacecraft to cross the heliopause-the outer boundary of the vast region of space dominated by the solar wind and the sun's magnetic field-and reach interstellar space. In that sense, it can be said that the spacecraft will be able to sample what space is like beyond our solar system. (If we define the solar system as the sun and everything that primarily orbits the sun, however, Voyager 1 will remain within the confines of the solar system until it emerges from the Oort cloud in another 14,000 to 28,000 years).

Fortunately, in 28,000 years, its plutonium power supply will only be producing somewhere around 4 * 10^-94 watts, so I'm pretty sure we won't be talking to it by then. :-)

And Thus, a Mighty Schism Borne Out Two Sects ... (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226067)

Latter Day Voyager One-ist: "I respect your beliefs but I must disagree. Two thousand years ago, Voyager One did not exit the solar system on the 35th year of our Lord 12,980 days after His Holy Launch. It would not be until ..."
Reformed Good Gamma Rays Church of the Accurate Voyager One-ist: "HERESY! Where I come from, we have reserved black holes for the likes of your foul and vile lie spreading mouth. Prepare for battle and death ..."
Latter Day Voyager One-ist: "But I am merely repeating the preachings of Voyager One's one true manager, Edward Stone, who is one and the same with Voyager One!"
Reformed Good Gamma Rays Church of the Accurate Voyager One-ist: "Your Edward Stone was a false prophet and copycat of the original true manager that is lost to the ages!"
Latter Day Voyager One-ist: "Impossible, it was written that the oracle confirmed His information before being unplugged."
Reformed Good Gamma Rays Church of the Accurate Voyager One-ist: "How dare you bear false witness against the Wayback Machine (Voyager rest its all knowing soul)?!"
Latter Day Voyager One-ist: "Ask any Unified Voyager Two-ist, they agree with our views ..."
Unified Voyager Two-ist: "Okay, everybody, drink your kool-aid now ... the ghost of Voyager Two should be passing by this space station in the next few minutes. We will ride it all to that great ground control center in deep space!!!"

Must be Wednesday (4, Insightful)

justthinkit (954982) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225853)

Seems like every week we are celebrating Voyageur's exit from the Solar System.
.

What I don't understand is why the linked stories don't mention how big a change in radiation was experienced. Are we talking 10%, or a factor of 10? How about a curve while we are at it -- could be it is gradual, could be sharp, could be a hockey stick -- curve us please.

Re:Must be Wednesday (4, Interesting)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225961)

Looks like two orders of magnitude change in measurements (100 times). At least that's what the article I found here says: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/03/20/voyager-1-leaves-solar-system/?intcmp=features [foxnews.com]

Re:Must be Wednesday (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226227)

Fox news? Well shit, they're NEVER wrong!

Re:Must be Wednesday (4, Informative)

darkshot117 (1288328) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225983)

"Anomalous cosmic rays, which are cosmic rays trapped in the outer heliosphere, all but vanished, dropping to less than 1 percent of previous amounts. At the same time, galactic cosmic rays – cosmic radiation from outside of the solar system – spiked to levels not seen since Voyager's launch, with intensities as much as twice previous levels."

You're welcome.

Re:Must be Wednesday (2)

Walking The Walk (1003312) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226195)

the linked stories don't mention how big a change in radiation was experienced. Are we talking 10%, or a factor of 10?

Yes they did, from TFA [agu.org] :

"Anomalous cosmic rays, which are cosmic rays trapped in the outer heliosphere, all but vanished, dropping to less than 1 percent of previous amounts."

and also

"galactic cosmic rays – cosmic radiation from outside of the solar system – spiked to levels not seen since Voyager's launch, with intensities as much as twice previous levels"

For real this time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43225857)

It seems like I see a story like this every few years. Are they really, *really* sure this is it?

Re:For real this time (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226047)

No, they are really really really sure that something is really really different now. They have noted two orders of magnitude changes in their measurements so they are in a different, rather well delineated region, that doesn't match their expectations but is clearly not the same as what they saw when they where clearly inside the solar system.

Of course... It could just be the space craft starting to malfunction... Or some alien life form has taken it over and has decided to mess with our minds... I'm sure there will be conspiracy theories abounding on this... But it seems pretty clear to me, YES Voyager 1 has passed into some new region of space...

Seti can now stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43225867)

NASA has confirmed intelligent signals from outside our solar system.

Re:Seti can now stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226139)

Are you sure they aren't our signals bouncing back years later modified by background radiation, reflection, interference, {take your pick from long list of factors affecting signal}?

I'm not. So much that we "understand" about our universe amounts to supposition, assumption, and (often false) conclusion. Not to say we wouldn't want to keep trying, but I think we need to take all discovery with a grain of salt. It's largely conjecture based on little hard science.

so.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43225895)

How long is it until the sexy bald woman shows up??

Re:so.. (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226305)

Persis Khambatta (saying her name with reverence) died of a heart attack at age 49, such a beautiful lady...

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

http://www.google.com/search?q=persis+khambatta&hl=en&safe=off&sa=X&gl=US&tbm=isch&nomo=1&biw=480&bih=295 [google.com]

Re:so.. (1)

Pope (17780) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226617)

I'd always hoped she'd marry Afrika Bambaataa.

What's the definition of "leaving the system"? (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225995)

Sorry if this sounds dumb to some of the astronomy cracks, but from what I gathered so far from astrophysics is that there are different speeds for leaving the "area" of a body. IIRC it is called the sphere of influence, where a certain celestial body is the one that affects me the most. Like here on Earth, obviously, it's that planet, despite the Sun being a LOT bigger and hence having a lot more gravity, but since I'm sitting on that rock, Earth is it for me. Now, when thrusting away from Earth, at some point I leave its SOI and the Sun will take over as the main body defining my "main body" towards I move relatively. And provided I do not end up in the SOI of any of the planets or moons in our solar system, that's how it's going to stay until I am so far away from the sun that something else will be my frame of reference.

So wouldn't "leaving the system" technically require exactly that? That I enter another body (or bodies) sphere of influence? And, another thing, does Voyager actually have enough push to leave the system for good? As far as I know it does take quite a bit more oumph to leave the Sun's SOI than Earth's.

Re:What's the definition of "leaving the system"? (3, Interesting)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226145)

I'm no astronomer, but I think what you call the "sphere of influence" is properly termed the "Hill sphere" [wikipedia.org] . It does raise an interesting question all the same: which star will be the next one that Voyager ends up being attracted to?

Re:What's the definition of "leaving the system"? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226281)

Couldn't the galaxy itself be a SOI?

Re:What's the definition of "leaving the system"? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226295)

As well, the SOI [wikipedia.org] is a discrete thing, similar to the Hill Sphere. I suppose they are just different ways of looking at the same thing.

Re:What's the definition of "leaving the system"? (-1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226333)

None. If you work the math, its current estimated speed has it slowing down and falling back in to Sol rather than actually being caught in some other gravity well, as far as known gravity wells go. A perhaps unknown one of course could change everything.

Re:What's the definition of "leaving the system"? (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226287)

Gravity works over practically infinite distance. It just gets so small as to be negligible. There's a point where the gravity from the Sun is no longer as powerful as the gravity from the rest of the universe and I'd say that's the point at which it's SOI realistically ends.

Voyager is moving *much* faster than it did when it left Earth. Using gravitational slingshots around the various gas giants allows it to add significant speed. I believe it's something like 10 miles per second currently.

A little over 36 years later... (1)

sudden.zero (981475) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226013)

...and we are still standing on the shoulders of our past Geniuses. Oh how far we have fallen.

Re:A little over 36 years later... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226091)

And the guys who launched Voyager are standing on the backs of the geniuses that came before them, oh how much we sucked since forever.

Re:A little over 36 years later... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226097)

Relax, human. If we launched one now, it wouldn't even get as far as Voyager before being passed by one we launched subsequently. Let's cool our heels.

Re:A little over 36 years later... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226267)

Uh... Citation definitely needed. Are we due some extraordinary, paradigm-shattering revolution in deep space propulsion within the next 5 years?

Re:A little over 36 years later... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226277)

...and we are still standing on the shoulders of our past Geniuses. Oh how far we have fallen.

Technically, it's a little *under* 36 years later, as Voyager was launched on September 5, 1977, so be careful about lamenting the fallen, Grasshopper, until your simple Math skills improve. :-)

Longevity. (5, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226101)

The fact that this was launched in 1977 and is still operating 36 years later -- 33 years after its primary mission (Jupiter, Saturn encounter) ended in 1980 -- is an achievement in itself and testament to its design and build quality. According to Voyager 1 [wikipedia.org] the 3 RTGs (radioisotope thermoelectric generators) on Voyager 1 will continue to provide sufficient power for some operations until around 2025.

Re:Longevity. (1)

sudden.zero (981475) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226183)

That was kind of my point! If we were to launch one today it would break before even getting to Jupiter, and most of it's components would be made in some foreign sweat shop instead of in the US. Which is why I said oh how far we have fallen!

Re:Longevity. (4, Insightful)

toygeek (473120) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226259)

Yes its like those Mars Rovers that only lasted days instead of weeks and months and years- their primary mission wasn't even accomplished! What poor workmanship and slave labor have wrought!

Re:Longevity. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226413)

Yes its like those Mars Rovers that only lasted days instead of weeks and months and years- their primary mission wasn't even accomplished! What poor workmanship and slave labor have wrought!

Or don't even last that long. For example:

  • The Mars Climate Orbiter [wikipedia.org] disintegrated in the upper atmosphere because of a miscommunication of pound-seconds instead of newton-seconds - okay, that was a ground-initiated software fault, but still.
  • The Beagle 2 [wikipedia.org] that died for some unknown reason en-route and crashed.

I'm sure some Google time could provide a long list of failed Mars attempts...

Re:Longevity. (1)

toygeek (473120) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226473)

I was being sacrastic. Those two little rovers far outlasted their mission goals.

Re:Longevity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226585)

Obviously. He was saying your sarcasm was unwarranted, considering all the failures.

Re:Longevity. (2)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226389)

No, if we built one today it would likely out live its mission plan as well. The difference is, it would not out last its mission plan ridiculously long periods like Voyeger. Thats a good thing, it means the design is closer to the intended design rather than being more than it needs to be.

When dealing with space, overbuilding is a tricky situation. Yes, you want to over build it so you KNOW it going to work in every possible situation (which of course is impossible ;), but you have to constraint that if you actually want it to get off the ground.

Over shooting your mission goals means you probably spent a lot more money than needed to get it into space int he first place.

Voyager was meant to be overbuilt as a testbed for 'how long can we keep talking to this thing and how long can we make it work?!' Probes like Curiosity and Spirit on the other hand were not, and so while overshooting their goals is good in one aspect, it indicates possible flaws with the designers not fitting the specs and wasting things they weren't supposed to.

Sometimes this sort of overshoot happens due to a discovery that makes the new spacecraft suddenly far more reliable than ever expected, and thats a good thing. But just designing something that lasts longer than its mission goals is, when taken alone, an epic failure when you're talking about thousands of dollars per kilo to launch.

Re:Longevity. (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226335)

Largely its travelling through a vacuum, given the thing didn't explode seconds after it was released from the rocket, I'd say 36 years of travelling through a vacuum to be on par with expectations.

This is not like slamming a rover onto another planet with harsh temperature, wind and dust conditions and having it work 10 times longer then its original mission specs.

Re:Longevity. (1)

antdude (79039) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226387)

So it was supposed to fail in the 1980s/80s? :O

Re:Longevity. (2)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226499)

Little known facts about Voyager:

  • Carl Segan formed Voyager purely out of his own mental energy
  • The gold record carried by Voyager was designed and recorded by John Denver while on the set of the Muppet Show
  • Jimmy Carter hurled Voyager off Earth with his own bare hands

I could have sworn this is the 3rd or 4th time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226163)

in the last decade that I've heard Voyager has exited the solar system.

Heliopause (4, Funny)

Curate (783077) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226203)

I hadn't realized our sun was in heliopause. That explains the hot flashes.

First Post!... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226239)

... from beyond the solar system.

-- Voyager 1.

Last transmission (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226309)

F**k, there's nothing out here! They lied to meeeeeeeeeeee...

Voyagers onboard computer (2)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226381)

No, it wasn't the Eniac.

"There are three different computer types on the Voyager spacecraft and there are two of each kind. Total number of words among the six computers is about 32K."*

[*] - http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/faq.html [nasa.gov]

Scale model of its path and location? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226405)

I'd like to see a good diagram of what its general path was and where it is now in relation to other planet orbits if anyone knows where I can find one.

Re:Scale model of its path and location? (2)

sighted (851500) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226569)

http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/where/index.html [nasa.gov] http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/interstellar.html [nasa.gov] http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/images/voy_traj.jpg [uoregon.edu] And you can simulate the entire flight and its current position in 3D at http://eyes.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]

Alright... (1)

Tactical Bacon (1879876) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226419)

Now get it back...

I had 125 AU in the office pool (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226513)

You know, when Voyager clangs off a giant glass shell with star lightbulbs screwed into it. NASA's going to be pissed, but I bet I'll get $80 out of it!

I could learn via Google, but (2)

jitterman (987991) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226605)

I've wondered, would it benefit us in any way to send something out perpendicular to the orbital plane? I realize you don't get to swing by points of interest, and you don't get the slingshot effect of doing so either, but still, just curious. Thoughts?
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