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Topic: Interstellar Space

NASA’s newly upgraded Deep Space Network Dish makes contact with Voyager 2

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On October 29th, 2020 mission operators sent a series of commands to NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft for the first time since mid-March. The spacecraft has been flying solo while the 70-meter-wide (230-foot-wide) radio antenna used to talk to it has been offline for repairs and upgrades. Voyager 2 returned a signal confirming it had received the “call” and executed the commands without issue.

The call to Voyager 2 was a test of new hardware recently installed on Deep Space Station 43, the only dish in the world that can send commands to Voyager 2.

Crews conduct critical upgrades and repairs to the 70-meter-wide (230-foot-wide) radio antenna Deep Space Station 43 in Canberra, Australia. In this image, one of the antenna's white feed cones (which house portions of the antenna receivers) is being moved by a crane. (CSIRO)

Crews conduct critical upgrades and repairs to the 70-meter-wide (230-foot-wide) radio antenna Deep Space Station 43 in Canberra, Australia. In this image, one of the antenna’s white feed cones (which house portions of the antenna receivers) is being moved by a crane. (CSIRO)

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NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft measurements reveals loads of Hydrogen in Interstellar Medium

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Only the two Voyager spacecraft have ever been there, and it took than more than 30 years of supersonic travel. It lies well past the orbit of Pluto, through the rocky Kuiper belt, and on for four times that distance. This realm, marked only by an invisible magnetic boundary, is where Sun-dominated space ends: the closest reaches of interstellar space.

In this stellar no-man’s land, particles and light shed by our galaxy’s 100 billion stars jostle with ancient remnants of the big bang. This mixture, the stuff between the stars, is known as the interstellar medium. Its contents record our solar system’s distant past and may foretell hints of its future. 

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. (NASA)

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. (NASA)

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NASA’s SOFIA telescope discovers Pulsing Stars ejecting Carbon Gas, Dust into Interstellar Space

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSilicon Valley, CA – As Carl Sagan famously said, “We’re made of star stuff” — but how do stars distribute their essential “stuff” for life into space?  NASA’s telescope on an airplane, SOFIA, is finding some answers by watching pulsating stars as they expand and contract, almost like beating hearts. 

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, examined several types of pulsating stars in our Milky Way galaxy, watching as some spewed carbon, a key ingredient of life as we know it, into interstellar space. 

Image of a carbon star known as CW Leonis or IRC+10216 taken by the Herschel Space Observatory. SOFIA found that some carbon stars with especially strong pulsations, called Mira variables, distribute large amounts of carbon to interstellar space where it can be used as a building block for life and other complex structures. (ESA/PACS/SPIRE/ Consortia)

Image of a carbon star known as CW Leonis or IRC+10216 taken by the Herschel Space Observatory. SOFIA found that some carbon stars with especially strong pulsations, called Mira variables, distribute large amounts of carbon to interstellar space where it can be used as a building block for life and other complex structures. (ESA/PACS/SPIRE/ Consortia)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope observes Quasar emitting Energy across the Galaxy

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Using the unique capabilities of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, a team of astronomers has discovered the most energetic outflows ever witnessed in the universe. They emanate from quasars and tear across interstellar space like tsunamis, wreaking havoc on the galaxies in which the quasars live.

Quasars are extremely remote celestial objects, emitting exceptionally large amounts of energy. Quasars contain supermassive black holes fueled by infalling matter that can shine 1,000 times brighter than their host galaxies of hundreds of billions of stars.

This is an illustration of a distant galaxy with an active quasar at its center. A quasar emits exceptionally large amounts of energy generated by a supermassive black hole fueled by infalling matter. Using the unique capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered that blistering radiation pressure from the vicinity of the black hole pushes material away from the galaxy's center at a fraction of the speed of light. (NASA, ESA and J. Olmsted (STScI))

This is an illustration of a distant galaxy with an active quasar at its center. A quasar emits exceptionally large amounts of energy generated by a supermassive black hole fueled by infalling matter. Using the unique capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered that blistering radiation pressure from the vicinity of the black hole pushes material away from the galaxy’s center at a fraction of the speed of light. (NASA, ESA and J. Olmsted (STScI))

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NASA’s Voyager 2 Communications to be affected by Deep Space Antenna Upgrades

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Starting in early March, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft will quietly coast through interstellar space without receiving commands from Earth. That’s because the Voyager’s primary means of communication, the Deep Space Network’s 70-meter-wide (230-feet-wide) radio antenna in Canberra, Australia, will be undergoing critical upgrades for about 11 months.

During this time, the Voyager team will still be able to receive science data from Voyager 2 on its mission to explore the outermost edge of the Sun’s domain and beyond.

DSS43 is a 70-meter-wide (230-feet-wide) radio antenna at the Deep Space Network's Canberra facility in Australia. It is the only antenna that can send commands to the Voyager 2 spacecraft. (NASA/Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex)

DSS43 is a 70-meter-wide (230-feet-wide) radio antenna at the Deep Space Network’s Canberra facility in Australia. It is the only antenna that can send commands to the Voyager 2 spacecraft. (NASA/Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex)

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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’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 2017 Highlights

 

Written by Jen Rae Wang / Allard Beutel
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The Moon became a key focus point for NASA in 2017, whether it was blocking out the Sun during one of the most-viewed events in U.S. history, or reinvigorating the agency’s human space exploration plans.

One of the numerous NASA-related activities and actions the Trump Administration did in 2017 was to reconstitute the National Space Council. During its first meeting on October 5th, Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to develop a plan to help extend human exploration across our solar system, and return astronauts to the Moon in preparation for human missions to Mars and other destinations.

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NASA uses backup Thrusters to orient Voyager 1 Spacecraft

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If you tried to start a car that’s been sitting in a garage for decades, you might not expect the engine to respond. But a set of thrusters aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft successfully fired up Wednesday after 37 years without use.

Voyager 1, NASA’s farthest and fastest spacecraft, is the only human-made object in interstellar space, the environment between the stars. The spacecraft, which has been flying for 40 years, relies on small devices called thrusters to orient itself so it can communicate with Earth.

The Voyager team is able to use a set of four backup thrusters, dormant since 1980. They are located on the back side of the spacecraft in this orientation. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Voyager team is able to use a set of four backup thrusters, dormant since 1980. They are located on the back side of the spacecraft in this orientation. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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