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NASA scientists hope Voyager 1 or 2 will soon enter interstellar space

NASA is celebrating 35 years of success with its Voyager 2 spacecraft, which is the longest-operating NASA space probe in history.
The Voyager 2 launched on August 20, 1977. It's main purpose is to study the outer solar system and eventually interstellar space, which NASA is still waiting on.
The Voyager 2 mission turned 35 years old yesterday, but the spacecraft actually became the longest-operating NASA probe on August 13 when it surpassed Pioneer 6. Pioneer 6 was the first in a series of solar-orbiting, battery-powered satellites that continually took measurements of interplanetary phenomena throughout different points in space. It launched December 16, 1965 and transmitted its last signal on December 8, 2000. 
Voyager 2 has made a lot of progress in its 35 years in space, particularly in the way of Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus exploration. It discovered the hexagonal jet stream in Saturn's north polar region, the geyser's on Neptune's moon Triton and the magnetic poles of Neptune and Uranus. 
"Even 35 years on, our rugged Voyager spacecraft are poised to make new discoveries as we eagerly await the signs that we've entered interstellar space," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology. "Voyager results turned Jupiter and Saturn into full, tumultuous worlds, their moons from faint dots into distinctive places, and gave us our first glimpses of Uranus and Neptune up-close. We can't wait for Voyager to turn our models of the space beyond our sun into the first observations from interstellar space." 
Voyager 1's anniversary is also quickly approaching. Voyager 1, which launched 16 days after Voyager 2, has also been exploring the outskirts of the solar system with intentions of entering interstellar space. In fact, Voyager 1 captured the fastest rate of changes on the edge of the solar system earlier this month, which are helpful indicators of whether Voyager 1 will soon cross out of the heliosheath and into interstellar space. Changes in charged particles around the sun and the direction of the magnetic field help to assess these changes. 

Source: NASA

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By Bal on 8/21/2012 4:59:22 PM , Rating: 3
Wouldn't it suck if it hit a wall...

Sorry humans...your just a petri dish experiment. No getting out.

RE: Bounce
By FITCamaro on 8/21/2012 6:13:13 PM , Rating: 2
We'd never know since it'd simply stop transmitting.

RE: Bounce
By JediJeb on 8/21/2012 6:27:02 PM , Rating: 5
Or worse yet, the signals begin coming from 180 degrees in the opposite direction confirming we are nothing more than a computer simulation. Once you pass one edge of the map you simply warp to the opposite one. Just one big Asteroids machine :)

RE: Bounce
By Goty on 8/21/2012 6:34:41 PM , Rating: 2
... confirming we are nothing more than a computer simulation.

Unless, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, we live in a closed universe.

RE: Bounce
By Souka on 8/21/2012 10:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
wouldn't the wall be a big pink ribbon of energy that nothing can make through?

oh wait, that was Star Trek Galactic Barrier episode.
Oh wait, that was the Milky Way barrier... but still might apply. ;)

RE: Bounce
By TSS on 8/21/2012 6:30:25 PM , Rating: 3
That'd have to be one giant wall.

It'd be much more fun if it happened to fly into a wormhole or something. We think it's gone and 4 years later we get a faint message from alpha centauri, coming from our own space craft.

Now that would be interesting. Heck even hitting a wall would be interesting because interstellar space really isn't. It's a whole lot of very little.

So i say it's time we sent a voyager 3! Slap some high def camera's on there (go 8K, **** the bandwidth just drop more nuclear generators in there and a bigger transciever) and plan it on a course past all the planets, and pluto (show pluto some love!), and ofcourse as many moons as possible. Voyager was great and i do thank both craft for pictures i grew up with, but it'd be great if i can offer my kids some high def pictures, or even video.

RE: Bounce
By delphinus100 on 8/21/2012 6:49:24 PM , Rating: 2
It'd be much more fun if it happened to fly into a wormhole or something. We think it's gone and 4 years later we get a faint message from alpha centauri, coming from our own space craft.

I believe Star Trek: The Motion Picture did something like that...

...and plan it on a course past all the planets, and pluto (show pluto some love!),

Uh, things don't line up that conveniently very often. Besides, we already have New Horizons already en route specifically to a Pluto flyby.

RE: Bounce
By Reclaimer77 on 8/21/2012 8:44:53 PM , Rating: 2
I believe Star Trek: The Motion Picture did something like that...

Is that what that was? I was never quite sure what the hell that scene was about. Someone mentions that warping close to Earth was dangerous. But was the wormhole cause BY warping into the gravity well of that asteroid, or what?

RE: Bounce
By deathwombat on 8/22/2012 12:17:29 PM , Rating: 2
The wormhole was created by the Enterprise's warp engines not being aligned. He was referring to the blackhole that sent Voyager 6 to the alien world where it became V'Ger.

RE: Bounce
By Jaybus on 8/22/2012 6:46:45 AM , Rating: 2
It would make sense to send a much more advanced Voyager 3, but too much effort was/is diverted to manned mission capability. What a waste. I wish a Voyager 3 could be launched with not only updated sensors and communications, but also with a nuclear powered ion drive. They don't produce a lot of thrust, but they produce a small thrust for a long time and could achieve perhaps 25% of light speed, relative to Earth. If it lasts 35 years, then it should be able to transmit images back from another star system. But would that be 35 years Earth time or 35 years Voyager 3 time?

RE: Bounce
By wordsworm on 8/22/2012 8:16:52 AM , Rating: 2
It would have to have a very powerful transmitter if it were travelling at 1/4 light speed.

By Scootie on 8/21/2012 4:27:58 PM , Rating: 2
I always was afraid of this, what if they hit something? Do they have some in-build radar system that gives signals to make maneuvers?

RE: Accident
By geddarkstorm on 8/21/2012 4:46:48 PM , Rating: 3
I'm sure Geico would cover it.

But in all seriousness, space is really... really... mind boggling big. The chances of them hitting something are so remote, you'd have better luck becoming the President of the United States without even running for election.

The Voyagers do have a small amount of propellent, which they use to orient their high gain antennas towards Earth, but that's about it. No radar, just imaging devices and particle detectors, and no way to maneuver rapidly. But as they had no trouble making it past the asteroid belt and then the Kuiper belt (and Oort cloud if it exists), I'm sure they'll have no problem in the much vaster void of intersteller space.

RE: Accident
By Jaybus on 8/22/2012 6:26:31 AM , Rating: 2
Judging by the way cars are covered, I'm quite sure Geico would only cover its depreciated value, and by their calculations it has, after 35 years, depreciated to zero.

RE: Accident
By geddarkstorm on 8/22/2012 12:11:06 PM , Rating: 2
I dunno, they could be considered "classics" by now. That would jump their value back up!

RE: Accident
By Goty on 8/21/2012 6:33:34 PM , Rating: 2
To a high degree or precision, there is nothing there for it TO hit. It takes much more effort to actually get near something in space than it does to avoid anything.

RE: Accident
By ClownPuncher on 8/21/2012 7:04:40 PM , Rating: 2
Yea right. Tell that the the Interstellar Department of Transportation.

By Solandri on 8/21/2012 7:04:01 PM , Rating: 4
To give you an idea of the difference in technology:

Voyager 2's flight data computer has 16 kB of RAM (8096 16-bit words). 16 kB of generic RAM (not the radiation hardened stuff) cost about $600 in 1977. Or in modern terms, $38 million per GB.

The computer can process 80,000 instructions per second. A 3.0 GHz i7 runs at just shy of 100 billion instructions per second.

Its tape recorder can store 61 MB of data.

Its primary camera is basically a glorified TV camera. 800 pixels wide with 800 scan lines. The image is transferred to a Vidicon video camera tube which retains it during the 48 seconds it took to read the single frame's worth of image data and write it to the tape drive.

RE: 1977
By MadMan007 on 8/22/2012 1:14:59 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, and robust as sh*t too. This is obviously romanticizing it, but doesn't it seem like stuff made back in the 70s, environmental factors aside, was engineered to last and not cost-engineered?

RE: 1977
By JediJeb on 8/22/2012 1:37:47 PM , Rating: 2
Just like with systems today, if you under clock a system like crazy it would be very stable, use little energy and last a very long time. If you over clock it like crazy it becomes less stable, uses a lot more energy and dies quickly.

Today's computers are optimized more for speed than for endurance. Plus wires and vacuum tubes are more sturdy than super miniaturized circuits and micro chips. Put a nick in a heavy gauge wire and maybe you make it through the insulation, scratch a vacuum tube or large capacitor and it hardly matters, the same size damage to micro circuitry would completely disable it because you might cut through a dozen different connections with that scratch.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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