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Old 16th June 2012, 1:07 PM   #1
Sankari Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Voyager probe reaches edge of solar system

Incredible. Did they ever expect it to get this far? Not too shabby for 1970s tech.

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The Voyager 1 space probe has reached the edge of the solar system, extending its record for being the most distant man-made object in space.

According to a statement from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the spacecraft is sending back data to Earth showing a sharp increase in charged particles that originate from beyond the solar system.

"Voyager scientists looking at this rapid rise draw closer to an inevitable but historic conclusion - that humanity's first emissary to interstellar space is on the edge of our solar system," NASA said in the statement.

Voyager 1, along with its sister spacecraft Voyager 2, was launched in 1977 and is now about 18 billion kilometres from the Sun.

It is moving at a speed of about 17 kilometres per second and it currently takes 16 hours and 38 minutes for data to reach NASA's network on Earth.

Voyager 2 is about 15 billion kilometres from the Sun.
Most successful space probe of all time.

OF ALL TIME!

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Old 16th June 2012, 2:14 PM   #2
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Incredible. Did they ever expect it to get this far?
They certainly expected it to get that far. What's going to stop it? It'll just keep going until it runs into something, which is likely to take a long, long time.


Whether they expected it to still be communicating is another matter. They probably calculated how long the power supply would last, but they might have expected other things to break down before it got this far. The original mission terminated in 1980, and anything after that is a bonus.

Edit: well, the communications system was apparently designed to allow communications to continue when outside the solar system. That suggests that they were expecting it to still be working at this range.
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Old 16th June 2012, 2:22 PM   #3
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They certainly expected it to get that far. What's going to stop it?
I thought it would have lost power years ago. Surely at this distance it can't still be drawing solar energy? How fast is it travelling, and when can it be expected to lose momentum?

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Edit: well, the communications system was apparently designed to allow communications to continue when outside the solar system. That suggests that they were expecting it to still be working at this range.
Unreal!

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Old 16th June 2012, 2:40 PM   #4
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Just amazing achievement as far as I'm concerned. They may have expected it to last that long but whether would, and would continue to transmit for that many years......well it could have easily have ceased by now for quite a few reasons.

I think it's amazing.
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Old 16th June 2012, 2:45 PM   #5
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I thought it would have lost power years ago. Surely at this distance it can't still be drawing solar energy? How fast is it travelling, and when can it be expected to lose momentum?



Unreal!

It uses an RTG...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiois...tric_generator

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vo..._diagram_1.png

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Originally Posted by Voyager 1 RTG
The power output of the RTGs does decline over time, but the RTGs of Voyager 1 will support some of its operations to continue through about 2025.
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Originally Posted by Voyager 2 RTG
The spacecraft was built with 3 Multihundred-Watt radioisotope thermoelectric generators (MHW RTG). Each RTG includes 24 pressed plutonium oxide spheres and provide enough heat to generate approximately 157 watts of power at launch. Collectively, the RTGs supply the spacecraft with 470 watts at launch and will allow operations to continue until at least 2020.
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Old 16th June 2012, 2:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Sankari View Post
I thought it would have lost power years ago. Surely at this distance it can't still be drawing solar energy? How fast is it travelling, and when can it be expected to lose momentum?



Unreal!

A quick google shows they're powered by RTG's that won't expire until 2025. Awesome


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_1#Power
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Old 16th June 2012, 2:52 PM   #7
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I wonder if NASA might be hoarding secret discoveries made by the probe?

Just a random conspiracy theory thought for the day : )
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Old 16th June 2012, 9:27 PM   #8
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Thumbs up

Wow, I'd never even heard of RTGs. These things are awesome.

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Old 16th June 2012, 10:07 PM   #9
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Wow, I'd never even heard of RTGs. These things are awesome.

They're a pretty ingenious invention, and AFAIK currently the only way to produce electricity from radiation without using steam turbines.

The Soviet Union used hundreds of them to power radio beacons and remote lighthouses, and many are still unaccounted for.
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Old 16th June 2012, 11:14 PM   #10
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I wonder if NASA might be hoarding secret discoveries made by the probe?
I'd have to question what would be worth keeping secret. It's not likely that knowing about the edge of the solar system is going to have any military or economic implications for hundreds of years.

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They're a pretty ingenious invention, and AFAIK currently the only way to produce electricity from radiation without using steam turbines.
Well, strictly speaking there are plenty of ways of getting electricity from radiation without steam turbines. The TOPAZ reactors used thermionic converters to get electricity. There have been proposals to run a Stirling-cycle engine rather than a turbine. You can also use something other than water; there was a proposal to use boiling mercury for spacecraft. The big advantage of RTGs is that they're simple and reliable - zero moving parts required.
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Old 17th June 2012, 8:07 AM   #11
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Its so cool that they are still operating, sending data back.

They are going to have be pretty economical with the power budget. We will be getting less data from them as they start to turn off sensors etc. By 2020 they will essentially be powered down. Travelling forever.

But they are now interstellar craft. Our first real starships. With all that retro technology. A gold record of whale sounds. 8 bit processors etc.

I think it will be a very long time before we send something out to over take them. 100+ years. At least. But they are out there, doing their thing. While the RTG will power down they still have control of the things at the moment. I hope they program it to act as a beacon after we loose permanent contact.
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Old 17th June 2012, 9:11 AM   #12
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That is just mindblowing stuff..........as somebody said, thats pretty cool for 40 year old technology
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Old 17th June 2012, 1:21 PM   #13
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I'd have to question what would be worth keeping secret.
Well that's the thing, we don't know exactly what they have found ; )
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Old 18th June 2012, 2:55 AM   #14
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Is this the same Voyager probe that they talked about in the West Wing?

Josh Lyman: Voyager, in case it's ever encountered by extra-terrestrials, is carrying photos of life on Earth, greetings in 55 languages and a collection of music from Gregorian chants to Chuck Berry. Including "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground" by '20s bluesman Blind Willie Johnson, whose stepmother blinded him when he was seven by throwing lye in is his eyes after his father had beat her for being with another man. He died, penniless, of pneumonia after sleeping bundled in wet newspapers in the ruins of his house that burned down. But his music just left the solar system.

Oh and of course the one Kirk and the Enterprise will bump into in a few years from now hehe
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Old 18th June 2012, 7:10 AM   #15
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never mind, google is my friend

Last edited by robertjp_1; 18th June 2012 at 7:15 AM. Reason: checked up about pioneer 10 and 11
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