Voyager 1 Enters New Realm In Space - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Voyager 1 Enters New Realm In Space

YAHOO.COM - NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has discovered a new layer of the solar system that scientists hadn't known was there, researchers announced today (Dec. 3).

Voyager 1 and its sister probe Voyager 2 have been traveling through space since 1977, and are close to becoming the first manmade objects to leave the solar system.

Scientists haven't been sure exactly when that exit would occur, and now say the spacecraft are likely in the outermost region of the solar system, which is defined by the extent of the heliosphere, the large bubble of charged particles the sun puffs out around itself. Voyager 1, in particular, has entered a new region of the heliosphere that scientists are calling a "magnetic highway," which allows charged particles from inside the heliosphere to flow outward, and particles from the galaxy outside to come in.

"We do believe this may be the very last layer between us and interstellar space," Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, Calif., said during a teleconference with reporters. "This region was not anticipated, was not predicted."

Therefore, he said, it's hard to predict how soon Voyager will leave the solar system behind altogether. [How NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 Probes Work (Infographic)]

"We don't know exactly how long it will take," Stone said. "It may take two months, it may take two years."

The scientists don't think the Voyagers have left the solar system yet because of the orientation of the magnetic field they detect. So far, this field still runs east-west, in agreement with the field created by the sun and twisted by its rotation. Outside the solar system, models predict the magnetic field to be orientated more north-south.

As Voyager 1, the outermost of the two spacecraft, gets farther and farther away, it measures more and more of the higher-energy charged particles thought to originate beyond the solar system, compared to the lower-energy particles thought to come from the sun.

"Things have actually changed dramatically," said Stamatios Krimigis, principal investigator of the low-energy charged particle instrument, based at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. "The particles from outside have increased a lot and those on the inside … have dropped quite a bit."

The Voyagers are NASA's longest-running spacecraft, and will keep traveling outward even after they've left the sun's neighborhood. However, it will be at least 40,000 years before they ever come close to another star, Stone said.

Long before that the probes will run out of power to operate their scientific instruments and beam their findings back home.

"We will have enough power for all the instruments until 2020; at that point we will have to turn off our first instrument," Stone said. By 2025 the last instrument will have to be turned off.

"We're very lucky that there seems to be a compatibility between our mission and the extent of the heliosphere," Stone said.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Victim in domestic violence situation turned house fire speaks out

    Victim in domestic violence situation turned house fire speaks out

    Sunday, June 17 2018 9:26 PM EDT2018-06-18 01:26:17 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - It's been a tough 24 hours for the Winant Family.  Kelli Winant says she called police after a situation escalated with she and her boyfriend Saturday after he had been drinking.  "After he beat me pretty good yesterday, he burned our house down,” Kelli Winant Firefighters were at the home in a matter of minutes.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - It's been a tough 24 hours for the Winant Family.  Kelli Winant says she called police after a situation escalated with she and her boyfriend Saturday after he had been drinking.  "After he beat me pretty good yesterday, he burned our house down,” Kelli Winant Firefighters were at the home in a matter of minutes.

    >>
  • Woman hospitalized in North Spokane stabbing

    Woman hospitalized in North Spokane stabbing

    Monday, June 18 2018 1:01 AM EDT2018-06-18 05:01:08 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - On Sunday, just after 7 pm, Spokane Police responded to a stabbing call in the 600 block of E Providence Ave in Northeast Spokane. Officers arrived on scene in about two minutes, and located an adult female victim who was suffering from a stab wound. Officers immediately began providing first aid to the victim until SFD and AMR paramedics could take over care.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - On Sunday, just after 7 pm, Spokane Police responded to a stabbing call in the 600 block of E Providence Ave in Northeast Spokane. Officers arrived on scene in about two minutes, and located an adult female victim who was suffering from a stab wound. Officers immediately began providing first aid to the victim until SFD and AMR paramedics could take over care.

    >>
  • Driver charged with following too close in Highway 395 crash

    Driver charged with following too close in Highway 395 crash

    Sunday, June 17 2018 11:55 AM EDT2018-06-17 15:55:41 GMT

    LOON LAKE, Wash.- Washington State Patrol investigators say a driver following too close led to a 3-vehicle crash at Highway 395 and Grote Rd. Saturday evening. The crash happened around 7:15 p.m. Troopers say a silver 2003 Ford Taurus driven by 17-year-old Jon Peter Nelson was northbound on Highway 395, stopped and preparing to turn left onto Grote Road.

    >>

    LOON LAKE, Wash.- Washington State Patrol investigators say a driver following too close led to a 3-vehicle crash at Highway 395 and Grote Rd. Saturday evening. The crash happened around 7:15 p.m. Troopers say a silver 2003 Ford Taurus driven by 17-year-old Jon Peter Nelson was northbound on Highway 395, stopped and preparing to turn left onto Grote Road.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/