Voyager Goes Interstellar

Ms Tree

Jul 13, 2010
I think it is impressive as hell that a craft launched in 1977 is still sending back information. As I recall, this is the first man made item to leave our solar system. Pretty cool.
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Oct 9, 2005

Published on [background=transparent]Sep 6, 2013[/background]

[background=transparent]NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft captured these sounds of interstellar space. Voyager 1's plasma wave instrument detected the vibrations of dense interstellar plasma, or ionized gas, from October to November 2012 and April to May 2013.

The graphic shows the frequency of the waves, which indicate the density of the plasma. Colors indicate the intensity of the waves, or how "loud" they are. Red indicates the loudest waves and blue indicates the weakest.

The soundtrack reproduces the amplitude and frequency of the plasma waves as "heard" by Voyager 1. The waves detected by the instrument antennas can be simply amplified and played through a speaker. These frequencies are within the range heard by human ears.

Scientists noticed that each occurrence involved a rising tone. The dashed line indicates that the rising tones follow the same slope. This means a continuously increasing density.

When scientists extrapolated this line even further back in time (not shown), they deduced that Voyager 1 first encountered interstellar plasma in August 2012.

The Voyager spacecraft were built and continue to be operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. The Voyager missions are a part of NASA's Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

For more information about Voyager, visit: and .

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Iowa[/background]


Dec 12, 2011
Scientists will begin to use the Voyager I spacecraft to make in-situ measurements of interstellar space, having applied a “gift from the Sun” to confirm that the venerable probe has traveled into the region characterized by plasma originating in other stars. Analyzing plasma-pressure data that have trickled back across the 11.7 billion mi. to Earth at a rate of about 160 bps, the science team has concluded that Voyager I is outside the relatively low-pressure plasma at the outer edge of the heliosphere, where the solar wind from Earth's star slows. The spacecraft also has entered a region where the density is 40 times greater because it is generated by material from other stars and stellar explosions. Voyager I actually made the transition to interstellar space in August 2012, but because its plasma sensor failed years ago, the calculations had to be based on data from the Plasma Wave Subsystem (PWS), which measures perturbations in the surrounding plasma. That plasma was so thin near the heliopause that it did not register on the PWS until the arrival of fallout from a coronal mass ejection in March 2012, according to Don Gurnett, head of the plasma wave team at the University of Iowa. Scientists expect to continue receiving data from the twin Voyager spacecraft, launched in 1977 to conduct fly-by science at Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, for seven more years. Voyager II is on a slightly different trajectory than its counterpart, but it, too, should reach interstellar space before its radioisotope thermoelectric generator stops producing enough power to drive the instruments.