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Voyager 1  (Source:
NASA scientists say Voyager 1 could enter interstellar space anywhere from months to a couple of years from now

NASA's Voyager 1 is traveling through the last leg of its journey before entering interstellar space.

Voyager 1, which was launched into space in 1977 to eventually explore interstellar space and become the most distant human-made object, has reached a region that NASA scientists are calling a magnetic highway. This highway consists of charged particles where the sun's magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines.

This area is still considered part of our heliosphere, which is a bubble of charged particles around the sun, because the direction of the magnetic field lines has not changed. The direction of these lines will change when Voyager 1 enters interstellar space, and scientists believe the magnetic highway is the last stretch before finally making it to interstellar space. 

"Although Voyager 1 still is inside the sun's environment, we now can taste what it's like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway," said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "We believe this is the last leg of our journey to interstellar space. Our best guess is it's likely just a few months to a couple years away. The new region isn't what we expected, but we've come to expect the unexpected from Voyager." 

NASA scientists say Voyager 1 could enter interstellar space anywhere from months to a couple of years from now. 

In July of this year, Voyager 1 received another clue that it was nearing interstellar space. In studying the bubble of charged particles, it 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. 

Source: NASA

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By Dr of crap on 12/5/2012 8:32:40 AM , Rating: 2
Are we still getting transmissions from it and can we send it commands?

Seems like at that distance the communications could get lost in all the static out there and we couldn't make any sense of or hear anything from it.


RE: Question
By GeekWithFire on 12/5/2012 9:36:11 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, via deep space network. It takes over 14 hours.

RE: Question
By StevoLincolnite on 12/5/2012 11:54:26 AM , Rating: 2
Should have a game of chess against the computer on Voyager, I would be all for it!

RE: Question
By Obujuwami on 12/5/2012 2:54:26 PM , Rating: 2
Tic-tac-toe so it can learn to avoid the other beings out in Hutts, Shadows, and Romulans.

RE: Question
By drycrust3 on 12/5/2012 5:02:16 PM , Rating: 2
You might win. The processor is ... an RCA 1802 processor as I recall. It has a ... I think 128K addressable memory.

RE: Question
By marvdmartian on 12/5/2012 10:51:16 AM , Rating: 5
For now. In another 300 years, however, when it returns as V-ger, it will no longer take commands from us!

RE: Question
By eldakka on 12/5/2012 7:50:52 PM , Rating: 2
Na, the psychlo's are gonna get it first.

RE: Question
By bupkus on 12/5/2012 11:33:49 AM , Rating: 3
...and can we send it commands?
What kind of commands would you send?

Blink once for yes?
Stop off at DQ and pick me up a milk shake on the way home?
Or my personal favorite- can you unhook your bra?

RE: Question
By natenut on 12/5/2012 1:10:38 PM , Rating: 2
The techniques that the deep space network are using involve arraying multiple radio telescopes together to pick out the signal from the noise. If memory serves me correctly some of this stuff was figured out specifically for talking to Voyager.

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