Friday September 20, 2019
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Voyager Probe 2 May Be Close to Interstellar Space: NASA

In May 2012, Voyager 1 experienced an increase in the rate of cosmic rays similar to what Voyager 2 is now detecting.

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NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Nasa's Opportunity rover might have 'died' on Mars. Flickr

NASA’s Voyager 2 probe that was launched in 1977 has detected an increase in cosmic rays that originate outside our solar system, indicating that it is near the interstellar space.

Once Voyager 2 exits the outermost layer of the heliosphere — the vast bubble around the Sun and the planets dominated by solar material and magnetic fields — it will become the second human-made object, after Voyager 1, to enter interstellar space, NASA said in a statement on Friday.

Voyager 2 is little less than 17.7 billion km away from Earth — or more than 118 times the distance from Earth to the Sun.

It is the only spacecraft to visit all four giant outer planet — Jupiter (1979), Saturn (1981), Uranus (198 ) and Neptune (1989).

NASA
Interstellar Space. IANS

Voyager scientists have been watching for the spacecraft to reach the outer boundary of the heliosphere, known as the heliopause.

“We’re seeing a change in the environment around Voyager 2, there’s no doubt about that,” said Voyager Project Scientist Ed Stone from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Since late August, the “Cosmic Ray Subsystem” instrument on Voyager 2 has measured about a five percent increase in the rate of cosmic rays hitting the spacecraft compared to early August.

The probe’s Low-Energy Charged Particle instrument has detected a similar increase in higher-energy cosmic rays.

TESS, rover, NASA
An artist’s concept provided by NASA shows the Keplar Spacecraft moving through space. VOA

“We’re going to learn a lot in the coming months, but we still don’t know when we’ll reach the heliopause. We’re not there yet — that’s one thing I can say with confidence,” Stone added.

Three other spacecraft are on interstellar trajectories. New Horizons is closing in on a Kuiper Belt Object more about a billion miles beyond Pluto on January 1, 2019.

Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 probes are no longer functioning, but will eventually travel into interstellar space.

Also Read: SpaceX Launches Communications Satellite

In May 2012, Voyager 1 experienced an increase in the rate of cosmic rays similar to what Voyager 2 is now detecting.

“That was about three months before Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause and entered interstellar space,” said NASA. (IANS)

  • janjamm

    Wow, after wow!

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Scientists Analysing Images Taken by NASA of Vikram Moon Lander

Therefore, it could be difficult to identify right now (and it) may be a little longer before we have another opportunity

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Scientists, Images, NASA
But he added, "It is important to remember that the illumination conditions right now where the lander may be are harsh." Pixabay

Scientists are analysing the images taken under harsh light conditions by the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Camera of the area where the Vikram moon lander is likely to have touched down on the moon and it may be a while before they can locate it, project experts told IANS.

LRO project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Noah Petro, said on Wednesday that they were now analysing the images taken on Tuesday “and we will make a statement at some point when we can identify the lander.”

But he added, “It is important to remember that the illumination conditions right now where the lander may be are harsh.”

Therefore, it “could be difficult to identify right now (and it) may be a little longer before we have another opportunity to image the landing site next October 14” when the LRO next passes over that area of the moon.

Scientists, Images, NASA
Scientists are analysing the images taken under harsh light conditions by the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Camera of the area. Pixabay

The principal investigator for the LRO camera, Mark Robinson of Arizona State University, said that the last image of the area was acquired on Wednesday and will take time to analyse as there are “lots and lots and lots of pixels” to go through.

A NASA statement carried a note of caution saying that when the LRO flew over the Vikram landing the “local lunar time was near dusk; large shadows covered much of the area.”

The LROC “acquired images around the targeted landing site, but the exact location of the lander was not known so the lander may not be in the camera field of view,” NASA said.

“The LROC team will analyze these new images and compare them to previous images to see if the lander is visible (it may be in shadow or outside the imaged area),” it added.

Also Read- India Grapples with Credit Issues

Vikram lost contact with the Indian Space Research Organisation after it was launched by the Chandraayan 2 moon orbiter to touch down in the area of the moon’s south pole on September 6.

After following the intended trajectory, it deviated in the final moments during the last two kilometres of the descent and went silent.

Vikram carried a rover called Pragyan that was to have conducted experiments on the moon’s surface.

Aviation Week created some confusion on Wednesday with an erroneous headline, “NASA’s LRO fails to spot Chandraayan 2 Lander,” which was picked up by others.

Scientists, Images, NASA
LRO project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Noah Petro, said on Wednesday that they were now analysing the images taken on Tuesday “and we will make a statement at some point . Pixabay

Both the scientists IANS spoke to said the headline was wrong.

Robinson said: “They are rather astonishing because we haven’t had the images to look at yet. I don’t know where that came from.”

Petro said, “The headline is wrong. That was actually posted even before we had the data on the ground.”

Also Read- Reliance JIO Won Race For The Most Subscribers; Airtel, VIL Lose

The publication later changed the headline to “NASA’s LRO Begins Search For Silent Chandrayaan-2 Lander.” (IANS)