NASA's Voyager 1 Captures Fastest Pace of Changes on Edge of Solar System
August 8, 2012 8:30 AM
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On July 28, levels of high-energy cosmic ray particles originating from outside our solar system increased by 5 percent
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft managed to catch the fastest rate of changes on the edge of the solar system.
The Voyager 1 is a NASA space probe that was launched in 1977 to study the outer solar system. It is now in the heliosheath, which is which is the outermost layer of the heliosphere. This area is
, and acts as the outer layer of the bubble of charged particles that surrounds the sun.
The Voyager 1 has been studying this bubble of charged particles, and in doing so, caught the fastest rate of change in two of three signs of changes expected to occur at this particular area. The three signs of changes are the rate in which levels of high-energy cosmic ray particles increase, the rate in which lower-energy particles decrease, and the direction of the magnetic field.
On July 28, levels of high-energy cosmic ray particles originating from outside our solar system increased by 5 percent. In the last half of that same day, lower-energy particles originating from inside our solar system decreased by half. Three days later, all levels returned to normal. This was the fastest rate of change observed so far.
As far as the direction of the magnetic field goes, the data needs to be analyzed to determine if this occurred or not. These results should be available next month.
This is all crucial information as Voyager 1 attempts to
cross into interstellar space
. NASA expects this to occur, but it does not know when. When this does happen, Voyager 1 will be the first manmade spacecraft to exit the solar system and dive into interstellar space.
According to NASA scientists, the levels of lower-energy particles will drop to zero before Voyager 1 crosses into interstellar space.
"These are thrilling times for the Voyager team as we try to understand the quickening pace of changes as Voyager 1 approaches the edge of interstellar space," said Edward Stone. Voyager 1 project scientist from the California Institute of Technology. "We are certainly in a new region at the edge of the solar system where things are changing rapidly. But we are not yet able to say that Voyager 1 has entered interstellar space."
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A bit behind, aren't we?
8/8/2012 9:05:20 AM
The 5% increase was actually detected back in May, and reported by NASA in mid-June.
RE: A bit behind, aren't we?
8/8/2012 10:37:48 AM
That's different (older) data. Your link refers to "Beginning on May 7, the cosmic ray hits have increased five percent in a week and nine percent in a month."
The science daily article this post was based on is data from the end of July and is of a significantly faster rate of change. "In one day, on July 28, data from Voyager 1's cosmic ray instrument showed the level of high-energy cosmic rays originating from outside our solar system jumped by five percent. During the last half of that same day, the level of lower-energy particles originating from inside our solar system dropped by half. However, in three days, the levels had recovered to near their previous levels."
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