Some news to put our earthly issues and political navel gazing in a wider perspective. A much wider perspective: NASA has announced this week that recently Voyager 2 has left the Heliosphere, and is now in interstellar space.
It’s the second human made object that has reached this far outside our home. Launched in 1977 Voyager finished its primary mission in 1989. In its 42nd year of duty, it will now start measuring interstellar space as long as the connection isn’t lost.
Voyager 1, launched 2 weeks after Voyager 2 in 1977, was first to leave the heliosphere in 2012. It is still sending back data, and even accepted a remote controlled course correction last year.
Below is the graph NASA published that shows the moment of leaving the protective bubble around our solar system.
I was 7 years old when it was launched, it has been flying through space for most of my life. Currently at a distance of 119 AU, 119 times the distance between Earth and the Sun, or 119 times 150 or 17.850 million kilometers, it’s an awe inspiring journey.
I was 13 years old in the spring of 1980 when Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out. I saw it with my father in San Antonio, Texas while on a bus trip around the United States. I remember the reveal at the end of the movie of V’Ger and how great a conceit I thought that was.
Remarkable to think that Voyager was so much in the popular imagination at that time to elicit such treatment.
I’m just wondering what possible need there could be for a course correction out there.
Not for collision avoidance presumably 😉
It was to keep it in a position to be able to send data back to us. The original elements for it were flagging so they tested to use the thrusters for it. Adding a few more years to the mission before contact will be lost. https://www.space.com/38967-voyager-1-fires-backup-thrusters-after-37-years.html
Ton Zijlstra mentioned this article on zylstra.org.