Thursday December 13, 2018
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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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Launched in September 2016, OSIRIS-REx is NASA's first mission to collect sample from an asteroid. Flickr
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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)

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  • janjamm

    Wow, after wow!

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NASA Probe Finds Water Locked Inside The Asteroid Bennu

The spacecraft's first orbital insertion is scheduled for December 31, and OSIRIS-REx will remain in orbit until mid-February 2019, when it exits to initiate another series of flybys for the next survey phase

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NASA probe finds water on asteroid Bennu. Pixabay

NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has found water locked inside the asteroid Bennu — a remnant from early in the formation of the solar system.

Launched in September 2016, OSIRIS-REx is NASA’s first mission to collect sample from an asteroid.

Data obtained from the spacecraft’s two spectrometers, the OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) and the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) reveal the presence of molecules that contain oxygen and hydrogen atoms bonded together, known as “hydroxyls”.

These hydroxyl groups exist globally across the asteroid in water-bearing clay minerals, meaning that at some point Bennu’s rocky material interacted with water.

While Bennu itself is too small to have ever hosted liquid water, the finding does indicate that liquid water was present at some time on Bennu’s parent body, a much larger asteroid, NASA said in a statement on Monday.

“The presence of hydrated minerals across the asteroid confirms that Bennu, a remnant from early in the formation of the solar system, is an excellent specimen for the OSIRIS-REx mission to study the composition of primitive volatiles and organics,” said Amy Simon from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Launched in September 2016, OSIRIS-REx is NASA’s first mission to collect sample from an asteroid. Flickr

“When samples of this material are returned by the mission to Earth in 2023, scientists will receive a treasure trove of new information about the history and evolution of our solar system,” Simon added.

After travelling through space for more than two years and over two billion kilometres, OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached Bennu on December 3.

The mission is currently performing a preliminary survey of the asteroid, flying the spacecraft in passes over Bennu’s north pole, equator, and south pole at ranges as close as 4.4 miles (7 km) to better determine the asteroid’s mass.

Also Read- Korean Soldiers Inspect The Demilitarized Border

The spacecraft’s first orbital insertion is scheduled for December 31, and OSIRIS-REx will remain in orbit until mid-February 2019, when it exits to initiate another series of flybys for the next survey phase.

During the first orbital phase, the spacecraft will orbit the asteroid at a range of 0.9 miles (1.4 km) to 1.24 miles (2.0 km) from the centre of Bennu – setting new records for the smallest body ever orbited by a spacecraft and the closest orbit of a planetary body by any spacecraft. (IANS)