NASA's Voyager 1 , that has happened to be zooming throughout space for longer than 35 years , noticed a great decrease in solar particles and a multiple big jump in high-energy galactic cosmic rays past August , the scientists publicized in three new studies published June 27 in the journal Science. The probe did not measure a shift in the direction of the ambient magnetic field, indicating that Voyager 1 is still within the sun's sphere of influence, experts stated. But mission scientists believe the spacecraft will most likely leave Earth's solar system somewhat soon.
"I think it's probably several more years at 2015 is reasonable," stated Voyager project scientist Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, lead author of one of the new studies as well as co-author of another. "But it's speculation, because none of the models we have, have this particular region in them," Stone explained to SPACE.com. "So none of the models can be directly and accurately compared to what we're observing. What we're observing is really quite new."
Another Location of Space
Voyager 1 as well as its twin, Voyager 2, 1977 to examine Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. The probes finished this exceptional "grand tour" afterward maintained precise on traveling toward interstellar space. Voyager 1 should get there first. At 11 .5 billion miles from Earth, the spacecraft is the farthest man-made object in space. Voyager 2, for its part, is now 9 .4 billion miles. Each probes are presently travelling the outer layers of the heliosphere, the tremendous bubble of charged particles and magnetic fields encircling the sun. However details are actually becoming insightful for Voyager 1, the new studies report.
On Aug. 25, 2012, the probe reported a 1, 000-fold drop in the amount of charged solar particles while also measuring a 9 percent increasing amount of fast-moving particles of galactic origin known as cosmic rays. Those are two of the three phenomena that Voyager scientists expect to observe whenever the spacecraft crosses over into interstellar space. But Voyager 1 still hasn't recognized the third one — a transformation in magnetic-field orientation, from east-west within the solar system to about north-south outside of it. The magnetic field "did not change direction. All it did was get compressed, so it's stronger now than it was," Stone stated. "That's what one would expect if, in fact, the energetic particles, which were providing the pressure, suddenly left." In general, experts believed, Voyager 1's recent information shows that the spacecraft continues to be within the solar system, although it seems to remain in a sort of interface location linking the heliosphere and interstellar space.
Keep on Tracking
Mission scientists will keep an eye on the magnetic-field readings over the coming months and years, Stone stated. "If there's a dramatic change, like there was last Aug. 25, that will be very exciting," he stated. "If it's a gradual change, well, it'll just take us longer to realize what's happening."
Stone and his fellow workers expect that Voyager 1 leaves the solar system before 2020. The probe's decreasing power source will certainly force engineers to shut down the very first instrument that year, and most of them probably will stop working by 2025.
There's certainly no reason to imagine something will go wrong before 2020 , due to the fact the spacecraft remains to be in good condition despite its advanced age .However the mission team is aware there are no guarantees . "Something could break. That's what you can't predict — the random failure," Stone stated. "So far, we've been lucky. There haven't been any catastrophic random failures."