Sci/Tech NASA's Voyager 2 finds new mysteries at the edge of the solar system

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    If you've ever felt like you're having an incredibly long day at work, spare a thought for NASA's Voyager probes. Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have been traveling through space, revealing the secrets of the solar system, for the last 42 years. In all that time, they've beamed back tons of data about our place in the universe. Their journey has taken both probes beyond the reach of the farthest (dwarf) planet and into interstellar space: Voyager 1 departed in 2012, and in November last year, Voyager 2 followed.

    "This has really been a wonderful journey," said Ed Stone, a chief scientist on the Voyager mission and author of a new paper, in a press briefing. "It began with the launch of two spacecraft in 1977 to explore Jupiter and Saturn, and everything after that has been step-wise as our journey has extended deeper and deeper into space."

    In a suite of five new research papers, published in Nature Astronomy on Monday, Stone and colleagues report the first data from Voyager 2's solar system exit, revealing new characteristics at the border of interstellar space. The findings confirm that Voyager 2 officially entered interstellar space on Nov. 5, 2018, at a distance of 119 au (119 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun, or 11 billion miles).

    The handful of papers are a trove of space data, analyzing the measurements taken by the spacecraft as it made its way over the edge of the solar system. Its on-board instruments were able to assess changes in cosmic rays, plasma density, charged particles and magnetic fields.

    Because Voyager 2 passed through the boundary at a completely different position from that of Voyager 1, researchers were able to get a better understanding of the similarities and differences in the heliosphere, the protective bubble of supersonic solar wind that encapsulates the solar system. The bubble keeps much of the gas, dust and cosmic rays in interstellar space out of the solar system.

    Read more here. (CNET)

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