Voyager probe reaches edge of solar system

Discussion in 'Science' started by Sankari, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. Sankari

    Sankari Member

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

    Most successful space probe of all time.

    OF ALL TIME!

    :wired:
     
  2. SLATYE

    SLATYE SLATYE, not SLAYTE

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  3. OP
    OP
    Sankari

    Sankari Member

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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!

    :eek:
     
  4. MR CHILLED

    MR CHILLED D'oh!

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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.
     
  5. Menthu_Rae

    Menthu_Rae Member

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    It uses an RTG...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Voyager_Program_-_RTG_diagram_1.png

     
  6. EvilGenius

    EvilGenius Member

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    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
     
  7. MR CHILLED

    MR CHILLED D'oh!

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    I wonder if NASA might be hoarding secret discoveries made by the probe? :D

    Just a random conspiracy theory thought for the day : )
     
  8. OP
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    Sankari

    Sankari Member

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

    :)
     
  9. tenfold

    tenfold Member

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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.

    The Soviet Union used hundreds of them to power radio beacons and remote lighthouses, and many are still unaccounted for.
     
  10. SLATYE

    SLATYE SLATYE, not SLAYTE

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    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.

    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.
     
  11. Phido

    Phido Member

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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.
     
  12. Zzapped

    Zzapped Member

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    That is just mindblowing stuff..........as somebody said, thats pretty cool for 40 year old technology
     
  13. MR CHILLED

    MR CHILLED D'oh!

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    Well that's the thing, we don't know exactly what they have found ; )
     
  14. mikischu

    mikischu Member

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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
     
  15. robertjp_1

    robertjp_1 Member

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    never mind, google is my friend
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2012
  16. War1910

    War1910 Member

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    Yep - the same one (also, I think the other one was shot up in another Star Trek movie by the Klingons)

    Voyager did take one last look at the solar system - check out "pale blue dot"; Carl Sagan says some philosophical things about life on Earth.

    oh, and http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/9905/solarsystem_voyager_big.jpg (thanks APOD) - you can probably find some larger sized ones around
     
  17. Dark Passenger

    Dark Passenger Member

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    that just blows me away. I remember reading about this when i was a kid in 1989. Now in 2012 its still going just amazing.

    The big question is though why are we not still making stuff like this?
     
  18. gregpolk

    gregpolk Member

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    Costs a lot of money, hard to see how it can make that money back, people don't appreciate the value of discovery with no expected monetary gain.
     
  19. whatdoesthisdo

    whatdoesthisdo Member

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    and I can't even get a decent wifi connection 50km from brissie CBD :rolleyes:
     
  20. cvidler

    cvidler Member

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    Not only that, even if there was the value in discovery, the US has no money anyway.

    The Voyager program has to fight for funding every year, it may happen the project (on earth here) will die before the probes do.
     

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