Researchers have recently published several studies on Nature Astronomy . The researchers confirm the passage in the heliopause by the Voyager spacecraft. Writing, together with the twin Voyager 1, a new chapter for modern science.
She ventured into space just before her sister Voyager 1. The latter departed from Cape Canaveral on 5 September 1977, collecting data and information on the
planets of the Solar System along its route.
Instead, the Voyager 2 spacecraft started a few days earlier than its sister. It is now beyond the heliopause. To confirm this, the data sent by the probe and published in various articles on Nature Astronomy.
“After 41 years of travel, therefore, the Voyager 2 spacecraft joins its twin in interstellar space” – reads the abstract of one of the 5 research articles.
The passage of the spacecraft into the heliopause took place and was announced in 2018. The first data sent by the probe were analyzed and published by a team of researchers from the University of Iowa.
The received data concern the passage of the probe in an area where the number of particles of solar origin started to decrease from August 2018. This means its passage towards interstellar space, therefore towards an area containing the so-called “cold plasma”. There was a sharp change in November 2018 when the Voyager 2 probe was located at about 119 astronomical units. Then passing the heliopause.
Heliopause is an area that marks the border between the “hot plasma” area, where there are magnetic fields coming from the Sun and interstellar space, where particles of stellar origin are present.
The Voyager 1 spacecraft , on the other hand, passed the heliopause much earlier: about 6 years ago.
Indeed, the long-awaited announcement of 13 September 2012: the first object built by man has crossed the borders of the heliopause.
This gives us the interesting fact that the latter is not of uniform thickness, given that the V1 crossed it much earlier.
However, the boundaries of the Solar System have not been crossed: there is in fact the Cloud of Oort, the “belt” of asteroids and comets that acts as a limit to the Solar System, which has not yet been surpassed.
We will not be able to witness this passage as the arrival of the probe in this area will be in about 300 years, finding the cloud 1.5 light years from us, and it will cross it completely in 30,000 years. It will cross the Solar System but will not be able to tell us because, according to some sources, the probes will no longer be able to communicate with us by 2030. They will no longer have enough energy to do so.
We therefore have two objects built by man that travel to the borders of the Solar System. Explore, discover, understand. The Voyager mission reminds us how important and fundamental it is for man to discover “what’s beyond“, to go “beyond”. (See also the mission of our Luca Parmitano, in orbit on the ISS, called, precisely, “Beyond mission“).
Article on Nature Astronomy: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-019-0928-3
Position in Real Time of the two probes: https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status/