Voyager 2 Enters Interstellar Space

Voyager 2 Enters Interstellar Space

December 28, 2018

On December 10th, NASA announced that Voyager 2 has left the sun’s protective bubble and is now flying in interstellar space. It is now 11 billion miles away from Earth! The bubble it passed through, known as the heliopause, is the boundary between the protective bubble of the sun’s particles and magnetic field, and the interstellar medium. Scientists were able to tell that Voyager 2 was approaching heliopause on November 5th when their instruments read a sharp decrease in solar winds and an increase in galactic cosmic rays. On December 10th, scientists confirmed that Voyager 2 has joined its twin, Voyager 1, beyond the reaches of our solar system.

Voyager 1 entered interstellar space back in 2012, however, each spacecraft had very different crossings. Voyager 1 and 2 passed through the heliopause in different hemispheres and at different points in the solar cycle, so naturally the information transmitted by Voyager 1 is different than the information transmitted by Voyager 2. Both spacecrafts are true explorers in uncharted territory and will hopefully continue transmitting data to scientists back on Earth for many years to come, ushering in a new era of heliophysic science.

Voyager 2 has had a long journey up to this point. It has been flying through space since 1977, when it was launched within weeks of Voyager 1. Since leaving our planet, Voyager 2 has visited 4 planets; Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus, and has traveled over 18.5 billion miles. At the speed of 34,191 miles per hour, Voyager 2 is able to travel 290 million miles every year. At this point Voyager 2 is so distant that it takes transmitted data about 17 hours to reach scientists here on Earth, traveling at the speed of light. By comparison, it takes light from the sun about 8 minutes to reach us on Earth.

Although the spacecraft is a senior citizen, scientists are hopeful that Voyager 2 will continue to transmit data for another 10 years, making the Voyager mission an impressive 50-year mission. As an older piece of technology, keeping the spacecraft going is not without its struggles. Scientists monitor the spacecraft’s heat and energy reserves. As the spacecraft ages, it generates less heat year after year and the power produced by the Voyager 2 is declining gradually. Eventually, to save power, scientists will have difficult decision of deciding which of Voyager’s instruments to turn off, one by one. Until then, there is a lot still to learn about interstellar space and scientists are excited to see what the Voyager spacecrafts can tell us about the space between the stars.

If you want to keep up with Voyager 1 and 2, you can check out NASA’s live feed of their mission status at https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status/



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

What is Halloween Booing? 5 Ways To Surprise Your Neighbors This Halloween
What is Halloween Booing? 5 Ways To Surprise Your Neighbors This Halloween

October 20, 2021

Halloween ‘booing’ has been a tradition that kids have participated in for decades! It’s a great way to get into the Halloween spirit while also taking the time to surprise a friend or neighbor with a Halloween gift! 

Read More

5 Must Watch Space Horror Films From The 70's
5 Must Watch Space Horror Films From The 70's

October 14, 2021

Get your thrill on with these 5 space horror films from the 1970's, guaranteed to give you the heebie jeebies!

Read More

Techniques, Gear & Settings To Master Moon Photography
Techniques, Gear & Settings To Master Moon Photography

September 13, 2021

Learn how to photograph the Moon like a pro with these simple tips!

Read More