Did Voyager 1 Leave the Solar System or Not?
2013 03 22

By Sarah Scoles | Discover


The thing about crossing into uncharted territory is that you may not know when, exactly, you have crossed into it. No one needs to tell that to the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which is currently at the center of a controversy about where the solar system ends and interstellar space begins.

Today, a press release from the American Geophysical Union initially stated Voyager had left our solar system. Two hours later, though, they issued a correction calling Voyager’s current location a “new region of space,” which is considerably less flashy (but equally scientifically valuable). The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which oversees the spacecraft, weighed in with a press release saying that no, in fact Voyager was still in the solar system.

So why the controversy? What is the debate about the boundary of the solar system? And what is this “new region” of which the scientists speak?

Let’s begin at the beginning. NASA launched Voyager 1 in 1977. Since then, the 1,600-pound (722 kilogram) probe has been zipping away from Earth and toward the edge of the solar system. It is currently more than 11 billion miles from the Sun, which is nearly three times as far out as Pluto is (don’t worry, Pluto; Voyager isn’t a planet, either).

But moving 11 billion miles from home isn’t always enough to free you of its influence. In the case of the solar system, the region where the Sun’s influence dominates is known as the heliosphere. Here, the Sun has blown high-speed, charged pieces of itself into a womb-like bubble.

Since 2004, Voyager 1 has been traveling in a subsection of the outer heliosphere: the heliosheath, where the solar wind slows down in response to pressure from the interstellar medium, which is the combination of winds from other, distant stars. When the influence of the solar wind and the interstellar medium are equal, the solar system ends, or so we say, and actual interstellar space begins. But determining whether or not Voyager has arrived there is no simple task.

[...]

Read the full article at: discovermagazine.com



Related Articles
What Is on Voyager’s Golden Record?
The Voyager Golden Record
The Secret Messages NASA Sent to Aliens


Latest News from our Front Page

Equinox: Homicide In Kennewick
2014 09 19
Description text from Youtube: One of the most important and controversial archaeological finds ever made, Kennewick Man’s remains were dated to around 7000 BC. Found on the banks of the Colorado River, his facial structure, however, was unanimously reported not to be a Native American by all the scholars who have taken a close look at the remains... The implication ...
The Israeli exception to US foreign policy advocating gay rights
2014 09 19
From an op-ed by James Bamford in the NYTimes on his conversations with Edward Snowden (Israel’s NSA Scandal): Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included ...
Russia to ban Bitcoin by next spring
2014 09 19
RT, an English-language news outlet in Russia, reports that a top official with the Russian government has announced that a law will be passed banning Bitcoin’s exchange into real money by next spring because of Bitcoin’s use by criminals and terrorists. Deputy Finance Minister Aleksey Moiseev said to journalists in Moscow: “People can play with their chips, and they can call them ...
Ingraham to Zuckerberg: Time for Open Borders at Your Mansion
2014 09 19
Talk radio host Laura Ingraham re-iterated her challenge to debate Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and criticized him for securing his property while demanding the US allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country on Monday. “In the end, borders work for these guys. Right, I would not want to be on [Facebook board member] Marc Andreesen’s household staff if ...
MasterCard tests Orwellian national ID card on Nigeria
2014 09 19
The march toward enslaving the world’s population by a handful of globalist statists and corporations continues, with the latest chapter unfolding, of all places, in Nigeria, compliments of MasterCard. According to the website GovtSlaves.info, the credit card giant is rolling out a card in Africa’s most populous country that has the ability to retain all personal, health insurance, tax payment and ...
More News »