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Voyager 1 Crosses The Termination Shock

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the going-gentle-into-that-good-night dept.

Space 420

SubstormGuy writes "In a scientific session at the AGU meeting in New Orleans this morning, Dr. Ed Stone presented clear evidence that Voyager 1 crossed the termination shock last December. The scientists in the room applauded when the announcement was made."

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That Voyager is out there (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631466)

It absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

Re:That Voyager is out there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631492)

it will not stop EVER --- until you are DEAD.
lil conflicts there ^^. are you saying it will never stop, but will stop when you die?? 80yrs?

Re:That Voyager is out there (3, Interesting)

Moocowsia (589092) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631530)

So if the solarwinds are slower than supersonic speeds out there won't that be decelerating voyager considerably more than before it reached that point? I wonder if this ties in at all into voyager being slower than predicted?

What the heck does supersonic mean in space? (1)

gtkuhn (823989) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631579)

Are they referring to speed of sound at sea level? That seems arbitrary and very slow in space speeds for not being zero.

Update wiki with new information (2, Informative)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631474)

The wikipedia entry claims that The Voyager I spacecraft is believed to have passed termination shock in February 2003.

I'd do it, but my wiki privileges have been revoked temporarily. I can't imagine why.

Because Wikipedia is run by facists (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631488)

Wikipedia, the free-content encyclopedia that anyone* can edit.

*Unless you make us mad, then we'll revoke everyone's editing privilege.

Re:Update wiki with new information (1, Informative)

wkohse (785174) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631519)

Wikipedia just says that it is believed to have crossed the termination shock, whereas "Dr. Ed Stone presented clear evidence that Voyager 1 crossed the termination shock last December. It was skepticism in 2003, now its been confirmed as true.

Re:Update wiki with new information (2, Insightful)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631543)

Right. Which is why I titled this thread Update wiki with new information.

But yes, thank you for paying attention and telling me what I've already said.

Re:Update wiki with new information (2, Informative)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631545)

That belief appears to be old and busted. The new hotness is that Voyager 1 has recently passed through the termination shock into a new region called the "heliosheath". Here's more info, pictures, and even movies, straight from the source [nasa.gov] (a much, much better link than the article provided).

Re:Update wiki with new information (2, Insightful)

gtkuhn (823989) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631558)

Why couldn't a one sentence definition of "termination shock" be included in the summary? Would it make the story seem boring, or was this a planned attempt to slashdot wiki? Did anyone not have to look it up? On another note, what the heck is the speed of sound in solar wind?

Re:Update wiki with new information (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631595)

hehe, yes. All too often I see references to the speed of sound at sea level when the vehicle in question is most definitely not at sea level.

Re:Update wiki with new information (1)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631718)

Haven't you seen star wars? You know all those "psssshww!" and "KABOOM!" sounds? There really is sound in space. It travels through the aether, the thing that makes the speed of light the same everywhere. But, normal sound doesnt travel in space---only the sounds emitted by lasers and light sabers.

(thats all sarcasm btw)

Re:Update wiki with new information (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631801)

You are aware that a massive energy discharge from those "lasers" would actually vibrate a nearby spacecraft and cause sound right? And lightsabers, duh, same deal but even more so. Don't believe me? Go listen to the hum of a florescent tube.. plasma is hot, heat is just vibrating atoms, atoms causing other atoms to vibrate is sound.

Re:Update wiki with new information (1)

jacen_sunstrider (797955) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631817)

One of the books tells us that, in order to give pilots a better situational awareness, there are devices within the cockpits of at least this one type of starfighter which translates event outside the craft into sound.

Sounds more like an author who was likewise fed up with that whole "sound can't move through vacuuum" thing, but who knows!

Re:Update wiki with new information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631593)

You can't just do an anonymous edit? I haven't even bothered to register a Wikipedia account yet, much like Slashdot :)

Uh... really old? (1, Redundant)

XanC (644172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631476)

Wikipedia: "The Voyager I spacecraft is believed to have passed termination shock in February 2003."

What gives?

Re:Uh... really old? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631505)

Imagine sending info across millions of light years with technology built in 1970s...

Re:Uh... really old? (3, Funny)

kevcol (3467) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631585)

Imagine sending info across millions of light years with technology built in 1970s...

Ahhh..

You know about the secret 8-track installation on Voyager too, huh?

Another referring Wiki link (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631510)

The article on Voyager I [wikipedia.org] also refers to February 2003.

Re:Uh... really old? (2, Funny)

Suburbanpride (755823) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631514)

The real question is when will it return to threaten earth as part of a destructive alien entity? and will Kirk, Spock and the gang be ready to save us?

Re:Uh... really old? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631528)

Just goes to show that maybe a source that ANYONE can stick any random crap into might not be the most reliable.

Re:Uh... really old? (4, Informative)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631630)

Just goes to show that maybe a source that ANYONE can stick any random crap into might not be the most reliable.

Not really, in this case it showed that an article that's out of date may not be correct. I mean, the new information was just now announced. To clarify, these articles now seem to be correct according to my source, and read:

- "Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab believe that Voyager entered the termination shock in February 2003."
- "Evidence presented at the AGU meeting in New Orleans in May 2005 by Dr. Ed Stone suggests that the Voyager I spacecraft passed termination shock in December 2004."

Re:Uh... really old? (2, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631665)

Hey, it was out out date info, but it's still better than an old hard bound 'World Book Encyclopedia'...

plus, this post has been up for less than a day and someone updated it...pretty good i'd say

Really Dangerous: Chinese Military (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631546)

NASA must keep secret any information about the American space program [phrusa.org] . Technological and scientific information about this monumental achievement by Voyager just might help the Chinese military to further its aggressive attempt to weaponize space.

Be safe, not sorry.

Note that the Chinese space program is an entirely military effort. By contrast, NASA is an entirely civilian effort.

Re:Really Dangerous: Chinese Military (2, Insightful)

Inspector Lopez (466767) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631586)

By contrast, NASA is an entirely civilian effort.

Thanks for playing, AC! but why not check some of the manifests for Shuttle flights; and whether the astronauts have security clearances; etc. The notion that NASA is "entirely civilian" is ... quaint.

Re:Uh... really old? (4, Interesting)

darkpurpleblob (180550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631563)

The article hadn't been updated for a while with new information (you'll see it's changed quite a bit [wikipedia.org] since the /. post). There also appears to be some controversy about the topic. From Effects of a Tilted Heliospheric Current Sheet in the Heliosheath [agu.org] :
There is currently a controversy as to whether Voyager 1 has already crossed the Termination Shock, the first boundary of the Heliosphere (Krimigis et al. 2003; McDonald et al. 2003, Burlaga et al. 2003). An important aspect of this controversy is our poor understanding of this region.

Re:Uh... really old? (1)

coopaq (601975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631620)

Wikipedia: "The Voyager I spacecraft is believed to have passed termination shock in February 2003."

What gives?

/. Doesn't just rush in and post a story until they are sure.

I think waiting two years is prudent for us to believe Voyager I has actually indeed passed the termination shock.

No worries if you miss it the first time anyway they will post it again tomorrow.

--I am a script

Re:Uh... really old? (1)

truthe (882466) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631731)

It is possible that people have different beliefs about where the termination shock is.

cool (0)

Dance_Dance_Karnov (793804) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631477)

This is uber cool.

Re:cool (4, Insightful)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631610)

Cool indeed. I can't help but wonder what Carl Sagan would think of this if he were around to see it happen....Sadly we have only his past eloquence [danivers.com] to ponder and we are now left to our own devices in order to comprehend the magnitude of this event. We are now an interstellar species. The first ever on Earth and the only one we know of. There is no turning back now. Though perhaps it is time for Voyager to turn back, one last time to send us an image of ourselves from the incomprehensible beyond. Our planet will of course not be visible anymore, and our sun will probably appear as a mere unremarkable dot among a thousand others.

in other news... (5, Funny)

professorhojo (686761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631479)

...voyager fans, unsure what "termination shock" exactly means, start raising donations "just in case".

NOT FUNNY: Chinese Weaponization of Space (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631565)

NASA must keep secret any information about the American space program [phrusa.org] . Technological and scientific information about this monumental achievement by Voyager just might help the Chinese military to further its aggressive attempt to weaponize space.

Be safe, not sorry.

Note that the Chinese space program is an entirely military effort. By contrast, NASA is an entirely civilian effort.

Re:NOT FUNNY: Chinese Weaponization of Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631592)

Just WTF are you talking about? Are you from the planet Zonk?

Re:in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631604)

Ahahahaha. Funniest /. post I've read today.

If only I had mod points. Well, an account might help too.

It happened ages ago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631482)

At the wiki link...

"The Voyager I spacecraft is believed to have passed termination shock in February 2003."

Whats going on?

Re:It happened ages ago? (1)

Lil-Bondy (849941) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631520)

how long do you think it takes information to be passed from here to there and back? also, its unsure when it was

Re:It happened ages ago? (1)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631537)

Well, the barrier is ~100AU out there. An AU is about 150million km. Light travels at 299,792,458 m/s.

Re:It happened ages ago? (2, Interesting)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631575)

/cygdrive/d/home>units
You have: 100 au
You want: light years
* 0.0015812845
/ 632.39726
You have: 0.0015812845 years * 2 /* there and back */
You want: hours
* 27.722488
/ 0.036071799

Re:It happened ages ago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631636)

That's close to where it was in Star Trek I.

Fixed article link (5, Insightful)

darkpurpleblob (180550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631485)

The first link doesn't go anywhere useful. This link [agu.org] brings up the correct results for the session. You can also view the session details [agu.org] .

MOD PARENT UP FOR GOOD LINK (2, Informative)

Infinity Salad (657619) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631534)

The link in the topic post is bunk.

2005 is shaping up to be quite the year! (4, Interesting)

uptownguy (215934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631494)

I am shocked I say -- SHOCKED -- to hear this news.

And excited.

The geek in me is excited about 2005. Methane oceans, rovers on Mars and private spaceflight? There's a lot that's scary going on in the world today. But when it comes to SPACEFLIGHT -- 2005 is shaping up to be a banner year!

Kudos to the Voyager team!

Re:2005 is shaping up to be quite the year! (4, Funny)

FuturePastNow (836765) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631541)

But when it comes to SPACEFLIGHT -- 2005 is shaping up to be a banner year!

Yeah, NASA might actually launch a shuttle this year.

Re:2005 is shaping up to be quite the year! (2, Funny)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631655)

That's nothing! A shuttle may actually successfully land this year!

Re:2005 is shaping up to be quite the year! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631569)

*cough* karma whore *cough*

...oh, finally. (2, Funny)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631497)

While it's there, I'll send it a message to have a look around... I think that's where I left my sunglasses.

Woohooo! (4, Interesting)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631499)

Worlds grow old and suns grow cold
And death we never can doubt.
Time's cold wind, wailing down the past,
Reminds us that all flesh is grass
And history's lamps blow out.

But the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

Cycles turn while the far stars burn,
And people and planets age.
Life's crown passes to younger lands,
Time brushes dust of hope from his hands
And turns another page.

But the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

But we who feel the weight of the wheel
When winter falls over our world
Can hope for tomorrow and raise our eyes
To a silver moon in the opened skies
And a single flag unfurled.

But the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

We know well what Life can tell:
If you would not perish, then grow.
And today our fragile flesh and steel
Have laid our hands on a vaster wheel
With all of the stars to know

That the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

From all who tried out of history's tide,
Salute for the team that won.
And the old Earth smiles at her children's reach,
The wave that carried us up the beach
To reach for the shining sun.

For the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

(c) 1975 - Leslie Fish

How doth the hero, strong and brave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631518)

A celestial path in the heavens pave.

...

Go, dad, go.

Re:Woohooo! (0, Troll)

augustjoe (740456) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631582)

I. THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. Winter kept us warm, covering 5 Earth in forgetful snow, feeding A little life with dried tubers. Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, 10 And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch. And when we were children, staying at the archduke's, My cousin's, he took me out on a sled, And I was frightened. He said, Marie, 15 Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. In the mountains, there you feel free. I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter. etc. etc.

Wow, I just discovered filking... how cool is that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631752)

Filking is cute, I am so getting in to that. BTW, that song is beautiful (just grabbed it off of Gnutella).

Re:Wow, I just discovered filking... how cool is t (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631809)

That's nothing. Try felching, now that's really cool.

details (3, Interesting)

rhennigan (833589) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631513)

Anyone care to give a better explanation of termination shock? How hot does it get there? Can the sensors onboard obtain more information of this phenomenon? The wikipedia article doesn't go into too much detail.

Re:details (5, Informative)

downsize (551098) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631574)

if NASA does not terminate the project [washingtonpost.com] to favor Bush's push to put humans on Mars, the Voyager 1 has enough power to last another 15 years (2020). in that case, they should be able to retain enough data to calculate what is going on in the heliosheath [wikipedia.org] and beyond. I don't think 'hot' is used to describe a location that is 7 billion miles from the sun :-} .. but they should be able to calculate a close temperature based on the distance and magnetic fields among many other factoring (IANAS)

Re:details (1)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631687)

interesting article from your link...

given ~15 more years of battery life, i wonder what more Voyager can do for us. Maybe give us new data about the composition of interstellar space. Reminds me of an old /. post about how 'space' has a somewhat fixed temperature.

It is somehow comforting to know that Voyager is still up there doing its thing for us even though it is crossing the boundaries of our solar system. Quite a design accomplishment I'd say.

Re:details (3, Interesting)

downsize (551098) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631727)

i'll say, who would have thought a 28 year old spacecraft would have made it that far without getting completely destroyed, but to cross 'the termination shock' as well!

it did read like NASA will not pull the plug, how could they possibly. is the heat from Bush really that bad? could not Bush's NASA advisors sway him that this is some incredible data discovery over wasting money to put people on Mars in 40+ years?

Re:details (1)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631804)

sway him that this is some incredible data discovery over wasting money to put people on Mars in 40+ years?

no idea...really hard to know what any leader is really driven by. I found his Mars initiative to be lacking as well, and ultimately unfeasable. I just don't understand...it seems NASA is willing to learn from its mistakes, but they neglect the lessons of hugely successful projects like Voyager.

One of those lessons being that making sustainable, lasting spacecraft is possible. I think sustaianability should be the cornerstone of a Mars mission, not just drop-in - jump-off moonshot style.

Re:details (5, Informative)

helioquake (841463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631607)

The termination shock is basically where the wind of the sun meets "the wall" -- as known as interstellar medium.

You know about the solar wind. It's basically a stream of particles flowing out of the Sun's atmosphere at a supersonic speed. The particles would cruise radially out of the Sun and go on and on and on...until it meets a clump of gas associated with semi-primodial stuffs that the Sun and other neighboring stars were made out of. Imagine that the Sun is sitting in a void of space (the emptiness was due to the solar wind sweeping out the material around it).

Anyway, as the particles in the solar wind nears the wall, the particles in the solar wind begins to "feel" the presence of a wall. It's like a wind hitting a building and twirl near the wall of the building. A similar thing happens here and the sensors on board Voyager can sense the motion of these particles "twirling" around. In this case, these particles are slowing down and that's what Voyager I has detected.

As for the precise timing? I don't think there is a clear signature of the "termination" point. It might have been in 2003 or in Dec 2004. In the astronomical standpoint, the distinction is, I believe, not so meaningful.

Phew. That's alot to write. I'd better go to bed now.

According to Wikipedia (0, Troll)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631741)

Re:According to Wikipedia (1)

helioquake (841463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631765)

If that's not funny, I don't know what would.

Re:details (2, Interesting)

CroDragn (866826) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631753)

I've noticed several uses of the term "supersonic" in relation to solar wind. Exactly how does this apply? Was under the impression that an atmosphere was a requirement for supersonic speeds.

Re:details (3, Informative)

helioquake (841463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631780)

Supersonic means just that -- particles moving faster than the LOCAL speed of sound. It varies slightly at a distance, as you might imagine.

Don't think too much. Generally speaking there is the presence of a "shock" where a supersonic flow turns into subsonic one. That's why you hear about these words often when talking about heliopause.

Did it really take this long... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631517)

...for UPN to get over the termination shock of Star Trek: Voyager?

DUPE (-1)

JollyFinn (267972) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631539)

This beats the normal standard of dupes.
TFA points to a slashdot article for the issue.

Re:DUPE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631760)

That's a recursive dupe!

Now how long will it take... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631542)

Now how long will it take for the letters OYA to be lost from the name plate, and for the probe to become sentient

Termination Shock ... (2, Informative)

bushboy (112290) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631566)

Yep, had no idea what it was (so much for my Space Geek Badge)

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

<i>In astronomy, the termination shock is theorised to be a boundary marking one of the outer limits of the sun's influence. It is where the bubble of solar wind particles slows down to below supersonic speed and heats up due to collisions with the galactic interstellar medium. It is believed to be about 100 Astronomical Units from the Sun.

The termination shock boundary fluctuates in its distance from the sun as a result of fluctuations in solar flare activity i.e. changes in the ejections of gas and dust from the sun.

The Voyager I spacecraft is believed to have passed termination shock in December 2004.</i>

Re:Termination Shock ... (1, Funny)

La Camiseta (59684) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631606)

You missed it when it was slightly defaced, gotta love those trolls.

Termination shock is also experienced by women following sexual intercourse. The most common scenario is related to premature ejaculation, most often due to mating with Slashdot readers.

link to old version [wikipedia.org]

Re:Termination Shock ... (2, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631805)

"The most common scenario is related to premature ejaculation, most often due to mating with Slashdot readers."

So it's just a theory...?

Supersonic !?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631578)

I thought there was not enough stuff in space to make sound, hence, how can the solar wind BE supersonic in the first place?

--------

In space, no one can hear you scream.

Re:Supersonic !?! (1)

dustinbarbour (721795) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631726)

technically, no.. it cannot be supersonic. however, it can be when measured relative to the speed of sound at 1 Earth atmosphere.

Voyager (2, Informative)

Fuji Kitakyusho (847520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631581)

I have been intermittently following the voyager program with some interest. Much more detail is available at the NASA JPL website, including transcripts of communication efforts with the spacecraft, as well as info about the program and the spacecraft themselves. It's quite the interesting story, given that the program was never expected to continue as long as it has.

Vooooyaaaagggger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631583)

Will Voyager encounter the Ga'ould?

"I'll be back" (1)

cachimaster (127194) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631596)

Vger.

more info (5, Informative)

Ichigo Kurosaki (886802) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631613)

the bbc http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4576623.stm [bbc.co.uk] has some more info on this. You should know that they are not 100% it has crossed the termintation shock. "Some researchers thought the probe had arrived at the shock; others thought it still had some way to go. Now, at the 2005 Joint Assembly meeting organised by the American Geophysical Union, space scientists say they are confident - and agreed - that Voyager has gone beyond the termination shock and is flirting with deep space. Predicting the location of the termination shock was hard, the researchers say, because the precise conditions in interstellar space are unknown. Also, changes in the speed and pressure of the solar wind cause the termination shock to expand, contract and ripple. The most persuasive evidence that Voyager 1 has crossed the termination shock is its measurement of a sudden increase in the strength of the magnetic field carried by the solar wind, combined with an inferred decrease in its speed. This happens whenever the solar wind slows down."

Re:more info (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631694)

So when it actually passes out of the solar system that meands that the interstellar winds will start slowing it down once its fuel runs out, and eventually will push it back into the solar system? The picture makes it look as if the interstellar wind blows orthogonally to the solar system at the direction voyager is exiting, which presumably means that once its fuel runs out then it will get blown back into the solar system and get stuck in the boundary somewhere.

Re:more info (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631715)

I'm an idiot, ignore the previous post. I really need to stop posting at 3am.

Re:more info (2, Informative)

Ichigo Kurosaki (886802) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631733)

The Voyage wont accually be traped because it is primarily using inertia to propel it self. If you think back to Newtonian physics in order to stop the voyager you would either need a pulling or a pushing force that is greater then the force of the moving object. Since it has breached the termination shock the gravity from the solar system is not suffiecient to prevent it from leaving. And the solar winds do not present enough drag (D=Cd*A * .5 * r * V^2) on the frontal area of the craft to sufficently stop it. The solar winds will not push it back do to there velocity and mass are not sufficient to overcome the force. It will enter deep space.

Re:more info (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631827)

Right, but according to the diagram there is wind in deep space also. Thus given long enough the probe should either come to a stop and start going backwards, or continue going forward while changing direction more and more.

Hey, question, something I heard about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631626)

Some years back, supposedly for awhile NASA was finding that all their far-far-far out probes, like Voyager and the other space junk, were generally off from where we would expect them to be. This "generally off" came to like inches over thousands and thousands of miles, but it still perplexed NASA a great deal since they should have been able to predict their crafts' positions with precision and they couldn't tell whether this meant that their probes didn't work, or our basic understanding of how objects move in space was wrong in some incredibly minor way, or if it was computation error, or if the probes were just leaking air very slowly and this was slightly altering their velocity. This I think included some probes that were still technically in the solar system.

Did anyone ever figure out what that was all about?

Funny (5, Funny)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631629)

I am totally depressed by my inability to make a Star Trek: The Motion Picture joke.

Star Trek (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631710)

Remember VGER (Vee-jer)?
Yeah, that was a highly advanced AI hell-bent on destroying the Earth because it's disappointed in us as creator-figures.
So the story goes it evolved into that from Voyager 6 after we told it to gather all information in the universe.
Maybe I should be worried?

...and they want to cut funding?!?! (5, Interesting)

mjsottile77 (867906) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631632)

Is anyone else frustrated when you hear wonderful science like this being done, yet see that probes like this are slated to have their funding cut (http://www.spacedaily.com/news/voyager1-05a.html [spacedaily.com] ) ? For some reason, $4.2 million / year to operate them (ie, listen) seems unbelievably cheap for such a unique resource - not only are there only TWO probes out there (voyager 1 and 2), but to get others out to replace them would cost a whole ton more. ...In addition to having to wait another 20 or so years to get there.
Science just doesn't work when politics gets involved... :(

Re:...and they want to cut funding?!?! (1)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631707)

I agree, it is frustrating. Voyager 1 and 2 are really proving to be good investments, and it seems like few people in politics see it.

You could say the Voyagers are one of the most successful projects NASA has undertaken.

I was wondering what more could be done with them before the batteries final go out...

Re:...and they want to cut funding?!?! (5, Insightful)

NathanBFH (558218) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631723)

Science just doesn't work when politics gets involved... :(

On the other hand, science like this would never be funded with out politics. There's only a limited amount of money out there to fund endevours like this, and someone has to decide how to divy that money up. So who gets the money? Well you have to create a policy to decide where appropriate funds.... and now you've entered the relm of politics. Whether it's decided by elected senators on the floor of Congress or by a tribunal of society's leading scientists: scarcity leads to a policy of allocation which leads to politics. Can't avoid it.

The particles slow down... (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631633)

but doesn't Voyager do so as well? Is it subsonic by now too? It's rather impossible it had its engines on all the time (or even most of the time) or that it moved faster than Solar Wind at any time.
Same laws of physics should apply I think?

Another question, "solar sail" related - it seems it's the distance where any Solar Sail based starship would slow down to subsonic speeds - and it would stop by heliopause?

Particles, yes, large masses, no. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631691)

Except the solar wind slows down due to it 'running in to' interstellar particles. Larger objects are less affected by these subatomic particles, and can keep much more of their momentum.

Likewise, a solar sail isn't like a nautical sail. Once the momentum has been imparted, you need to apply energy to SLOW it down. On a sailboat, when the wind stops, the friction with the water slows you down. In interstellar space, when you don't have any solar 'wind' to power you, you just keep going...

I also have a problem with the use of the term 'subsonic'. When there is no medium for sound waves to travel in, how do you define 'subsonic'? (I don't mean you personally, I mean the schmuck that decided to use that term in this context originally.)

Re:Particles, yes, large masses, no. (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631725)

Likewise, a solar sail isn't like a nautical sail. Once the momentum has been imparted, you need to apply energy to SLOW it down. On a sailboat, when the wind stops, the friction with the water slows you down. In interstellar space, when you don't have any solar 'wind' to power you, you just keep going...
except you need to discard the sail, or it would create the "friction" against particles that have already slowed down :)

I wouldn't be so hostile towards "subsonic", it's about speed, not about sound itself.

Sound moves at different speeds (1)

MikkoApo (854304) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631799)

Sound waves moves at different speeds depending on the conducting material so "subsonic" is a relative, not absolute, way to measure speed ;-)

I found a table which lists different materials: Speed of Sound in Various Bulk Media [gsu.edu]

Re:Particles, yes, large masses, no. (2, Informative)

hubie (108345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631807)

A gas floating around in space has a speed of sound associated with it, which is the speed a disturbance propagates through the gas (due to the gas molecules bumping into each other down the line). This is the same way a sound wave propagates through the atmosphere. The medium that the sound waves travel in is the gas itself.

You get a shock wave when you have a bunch of matter traveling at supersonic speeds that then at some point slow to subsonic speeds. That is what is going on here.

Re:The particles slow down... (2, Interesting)

william_w_bush (817571) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631708)

the change in mag-flux is small, enough to slow down ionic particles, but not enough to seriously affect a massive and low-charge probe or ship. so kinda no.

also, the heliopause and termination shock is a very small effect. its a big deal to the solar wind, but to any uncharged object bigger than a small rock its near unnoticable.

WTF? (1, Interesting)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631642)

From the Wikipedia page:

It appears helioshock can also be caused by mating with fagolas.

Why do I get the queasy feeling that some GNAA asshat defaced yet another Wikipedia page? Stupid pissers.

Go ahead, mod me Flamebait. I don't care. I'm tired of these jerks.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631649)

Why don't you do something about it instead of whining? You're just feeding their troll.

What does it look like? (4, Informative)

astromog (866411) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631660)

For those who want to know what a termination shock looks like: Clicky. [nasa.gov]

It is only a matter of time.. (2, Funny)

Sir Pallas (696783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631662)

..before it finds the machine planet, and begins the long journey home.

"The scientists in the room applauded" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631664)

There's nothing worse than self-praise.
How pathetically Uh-merican.

NASA are a bunch of trekkies (1)

ElVaquero (867318) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631688)

Man, from the headlines.. I can't tell the difference between NASA and Star Trek news anymore

down (1)

siimv (680072) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631769)

Looks like wikipedia.org has crossed the termination shock as well, provided by slashdot.org

That one was heck of a delay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12631793)

I got over the news about Voyager being cancelled a couple of years ago.

Alternately... (1)

Domini (103836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12631819)

... the termination shock boundary passed by Voyager 1? This would depend on the (decrease od) speed of the solar wind and thus (decreased) solar activity some time in the past.
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