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Topic: Heliosphere

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft entered Interstellar Space One Year Ago Today

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On November 5th, 2018, NASA’s Voyager 2 became only the second spacecraft in history to leave the heliosphere – the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by our Sun. At a distance of about 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from Earth – well beyond the orbit of Pluto – Voyager 2 had entered interstellar space, or the region between stars.

Today, five new research papers in the journal Nature Astronomy describe what scientists observed during and since Voyager 2’s historic crossing.

This artist's concept shows one of NASA's Voyager spacecraft entering interstellar space, or the space between stars. This region is dominated by plasma ejected by the death of giant stars millions of years ago. Hotter, sparser plasma fills the environment inside our solar bubble. (NASA)

This artist’s concept shows one of NASA’s Voyager spacecraft entering interstellar space, or the space between stars. This region is dominated by plasma ejected by the death of giant stars millions of years ago. Hotter, sparser plasma fills the environment inside our solar bubble. (NASA)

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NASA says Pressure Runs High at Edge of Solar System

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says that out at the boundary of our solar system, pressure runs high. This pressure, the force plasma, magnetic fields and particles like ions, cosmic rays and electrons exert on one another when they flow and collide, was recently measured by scientists in totality for the first time — and it was found to be greater than expected.

Using observations of galactic cosmic rays — a type of highly energetic particle — from NASA’s Voyager spacecraft scientists calculated the total pressure from particles in the outer region of the solar system, known as the heliosheath.

An illustration depicting the layers of the heliosphere. (NASA/IBEX/Adler Planetarium)

An illustration depicting the layers of the heliosphere. (NASA/IBEX/Adler Planetarium)

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NASA picks Study Proposals for understanding Fundamental Nature of Space

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. Two Proposals have been picked by NASA for concept studies that could help us better understand the fundamental nature of space and how it changes in response to planetary atmospheres, radiation from the Sun, and interstellar particles. The proposals will advance NASA’s heliophysics program and could lead to better protection for both technology and humans as we travel farther from home.

Each of these Heliophysics Science Mission of Opportunity proposals will receive $400,000 to conduct a nine-month mission concept study.

NASA has chosen two new science proposals for nine-month concept studies to advance our understanding of how the particles and energy in space – shown here flowing from the Sun in an illustration of the solar wind – affect the fundamental nature of space. One proposal will ultimately be chosen to launch along with NASA’s upcoming Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe in October 2024. (NASA)

NASA has chosen two new science proposals for nine-month concept studies to advance our understanding of how the particles and energy in space – shown here flowing from the Sun in an illustration of the solar wind – affect the fundamental nature of space. One proposal will ultimately be chosen to launch along with NASA’s upcoming Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe in October 2024. (NASA)

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NASA engineers make new Plan to keep Voyager 1, Voyager 2 going

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA engineers have been able to keep Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts flying for nearly 42 years, with careful planning and dashes of creativity, far longer than any other spacecraft in history.

To ensure that these vintage robots continue to return the best science data possible from the frontiers of space, mission engineers are implementing a new plan to manage them. And that involves making difficult choices, particularly about instruments and thrusters.

This artist's concept depicts one of NASA's Voyager spacecraft, including the location of the cosmic ray subsystem (CRS) instrument. Both Voyagers launched with operating CRS instruments. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept depicts one of NASA’s Voyager spacecraft, including the location of the cosmic ray subsystem (CRS) instrument. Both Voyagers launched with operating CRS instruments. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s ARTEMIS mission data suggests Moon Swirls created by Solar Wind, Magnetic Field

 

Written by Sarah Frazier
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Every object, planet or person traveling through space has to contend with the Sun’s damaging radiation — and the Moon has the scars to prove it.

Research using data from NASA’s ARTEMIS mission — short for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun — suggests how the solar wind and the Moon’s crustal magnetic fields work together to give the Moon a distinctive pattern of darker and lighter swirls.

Research using data from NASA's ARTEMIS mission suggests that lunar swirls, like the Reiner Gamma lunar swirl imaged here by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, could be the result of solar wind interactions with the Moon's isolated pockets of magnetic field. (NASA LRO WAC science team)

Research using data from NASA’s ARTEMIS mission suggests that lunar swirls, like the Reiner Gamma lunar swirl imaged here by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, could be the result of solar wind interactions with the Moon’s isolated pockets of magnetic field. (NASA LRO WAC science team)

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NASA’s Voyager 2 Probe leaves Heliosphere, enters Interstellar Space

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For the second time in history, a human-made object has reached the space between the stars. NASA’s Voyager 2 probe now has exited the heliosphere – the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun.

Members of NASA’s Voyager team will discuss the findings at a news conference at 10:00am CST (8:00am PST) on Monday, December 10th at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in Washington. The news conference will stream live on the agency’s website.

This illustration shows the position of NASA's Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, outside of the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Voyager 1 exited the heliosphere in August 2012. Voyager 2 exited at a different location in November 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration shows the position of NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, outside of the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Voyager 1 exited the heliosphere in August 2012. Voyager 2 exited at a different location in November 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Voyager 2 probe maybe about to enter Interstellar Space

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Voyager 2 probe, currently on a journey toward interstellar space, has detected an increase in cosmic rays that originate outside our solar system. Launched in 1977, Voyager 2 is a little less than 11 billion miles (about 17.7 billion kilometers) from Earth, or more than 118 times the distance from Earth to the Sun.

Since 2007 the probe has been traveling through the outermost layer of the heliosphere — the vast bubble around the Sun and the planets dominated by solar material and magnetic fields. Voyager scientists have been watching for the spacecraft to reach the outer boundary of the heliosphere, known as the heliopause. Once Voyager 2 exits the heliosphere, it will become the second human-made object, after Voyager 1, to enter interstellar space.

This graphic shows the position of the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes relative to the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause, or the edge of the heliosphere, in 2012. Voyager 2 is still in the heliosheath, or the outermost part of the heliosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This graphic shows the position of the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes relative to the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause, or the edge of the heliosphere, in 2012. Voyager 2 is still in the heliosheath, or the outermost part of the heliosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Voyager probes make their mark in Popular Culture

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Whether you’re traveling across cities, continents or even oceans this holiday season, there is no long-haul flight quite like that of the Voyagers.

This year, we celebrated 40 years since the launch of NASA’s twin Voyager probes — the two farthest, fastest spacecraft currently in operation. Each Voyager has contributed an enormous amount of knowledge about the solar system, including the unexpected diversity of its planets and their moons. Among their many distinctions, Voyager 1 is the only spacecraft to enter interstellar space, and Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to fly by all four giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Each Voyager spacecraft carries a copy of the Golden Record, which has been featured in several works of science fiction. The record's protective cover, with instructions for playing its contents, is shown at left. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Each Voyager spacecraft carries a copy of the Golden Record, which has been featured in several works of science fiction. The record’s protective cover, with instructions for playing its contents, is shown at left. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA along with European Space Agency observe how Solar Storms move through Space

 

Written by Sarah Frazier
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Our Sun is active: Not only does it release a constant stream of material, called the solar wind, but it also lets out occasional bursts of faster-moving material, known as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.

NASA researchers wish to improve our understanding of CMEs and how they move through space because they can interact with the magnetic field around Earth, affecting satellites, interfering with GPS signals, triggering auroras, and — in extreme cases — straining power grids.

While we track CMEs with a number of instruments, the sheer size of the solar system means that our observations are limited, and usually taken from a distance.

ESA and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory observed a coronal mass ejection erupting from the Sun on Oct. 14, 2014. Scientists went on to track this coronal mass ejection through the solar system using 10 NASA and ESA spacecraft. (The bright light appearing at roughly 2 o'clock is the planet Mercury.) (ESA/NASA/SOHO)

ESA and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory observed a coronal mass ejection erupting from the Sun on Oct. 14, 2014. Scientists went on to track this coronal mass ejection through the solar system using 10 NASA and ESA spacecraft. (The bright light appearing at roughly 2 o’clock is the planet Mercury.) (ESA/NASA/SOHO)

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NASA’s twin Voyager Spacecraft helped improve Communications

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As NASA’s twin Voyager spacecraft were changing our understanding of the solar system, they also spurred a leap in spacecraft communications.

The mission’s impact is still visible in California’s Mojave Desert. There, at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, the arcs of antenna dishes peek out over craggy hilltops. Goldstone was the first place where the two Voyagers started to change the landscape. The farther they traveled, the bigger these dishes needed to be so they could send and receive radio waves necessary to track and communicate with the probes.

In order to "talk" with the distant Voyager spacecraft, NASA had to leap forward in space communication technology. In the image above, a 64-meter-wide antenna dish in Goldstone, Calif. is expanded to 70 meters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In order to “talk” with the distant Voyager spacecraft, NASA had to leap forward in space communication technology. In the image above, a 64-meter-wide antenna dish in Goldstone, Calif. is expanded to 70 meters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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