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  NASA's Voyager probes: Questions, comments

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Author Topic:   NASA's Voyager probes: Questions, comments
Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-06-2012 03:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA's Voyager probes: questions and comments

This thread is intended for comments and questions regarding the updates under: NASA's Voyager probes: milestones and updates.

Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are operating as part of the Voyager Interstellar Mission, an extended mission to explore the solar system outside the neighborhood of the outer planets. NASA's Voyagers are the two most distant active representatives of humanity and its desire to explore.

Rick Boos
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posted 07-06-2012 03:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Boos   Click Here to Email Rick Boos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Isn't it amazing that the Voyager spacecrafts have traveled that many years and miles without colliding into something major?

Blackarrow
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posted 07-07-2012 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not really. Space is huge. Objects big enough to destroy or disable a space probe are very rare, even in the Asteroid Belt (as evidenced by the fact that no spacecraft has been destroyed or disabled while passing through it).

Philip
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posted 12-22-2012 10:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This month the Voyager project is exactly 40 years old!

In July 1972, NASA accepted the proposal and by mid December 1972, they signed the project agreement, appointed Harris Bud Schurmeier as project manager and assembled a science steering group headed by professor Edward Stone of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-21-2013 05:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yesterday, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) put out a press release titled:
Voyager 1 has Left the Solar System, Sudden Changes in Cosmic Rays Indicate
This, understandably, resulted in a flurry of news articles reporting the milestone.

Unfortunately, it was false.

NASA's Voyager team soon issued its own statement, disputing the claim, pointing to their own announcement in December that Voyager had entered a new region of the solar system, called "the magnetic highway," where energetic particles change dramatically.

The AGU then updated their release, with a new headline:

Voyager 1 has entered a new region of space, sudden changes in cosmic rays indicate
...but the damage was already done; so don't be surprised if "Voyager has left the building solar system" articles float around the internet for years to come...

moorouge
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posted 05-16-2013 02:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All this begs the question - how does one define the solar system?

Headshot
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posted 09-12-2013 05:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft officially is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space.
I believe that Pioneers 10 and 11 were the first artificial objects to leave the solar system. They were both to have crossed Pluto's orbit around 1990, but were heading in opposite directions. We do not know exactly when that happened because we had lost radio contacts with them.

Voyager 1 was the first object to leave the solar system with which we still had radio contact.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-12-2013 05:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As of today, Pioneer 10 is 109.224 AU from the Sun, Pioneer 11 is 88.780 AU, Voyager 2 is 102.690 AU and Voyager 1 is 125.405 AU.

Thus Voyager 1 is further out than either Pioneer and crossed into interstellar space first.

Headshot
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posted 09-12-2013 05:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the correction. That's a really cool site too.

Blackarrow
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posted 09-12-2013 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Voyager 1: humanity's most distant reach.

lspooz
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posted 09-12-2013 08:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lspooz   Click Here to Email lspooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA's Voyager has great info on the data analysis leading to the announcement, including an audio link demonstrating the 'pitch change' in vibrations measured in interstellar plasma versus solar plasma.

Philip
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posted 11-03-2013 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just wanted to point out this excellent commercial for Klara's Top 100 for classical music.

cspg
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posted 01-16-2014 02:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I like the idea that 25 years later, we still get some interesting pictures. See Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) for 1/16/14.
A mere 148 kilometers across, diminutive Despina was discovered in 1989, in images from the Voyager 2 spacecraft taken during its encounter with the solar system's most distant gas giant planet. But looking through the Voyager 2 data 20 years later, amateur image processor and philosophy professor Ted Stryk discovered something no one had recognized before -- images that show the shadow of Despina in transit across Neptune's blue cloud tops.

Blackarrow
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posted 09-21-2015 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know that the Voyager 1 and 2 TV cameras were switched off to save power some years ago, but is either Voyager currently producing enough power to allow, say, one camera to be reactivated long enough to take a final picture of our distant sun as the Voyagers head out of the solar system? Or have the cameras chilled down below the point of recovery?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-21-2015 05:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From NASA's Voyager FAQ:
Can the Voyager imaging cameras be turned back on?

It is possible for the cameras to be turned on, but it is not a priority for Voyager's Interstellar Mission. After Voyager 1 took its last image (the "Solar System Family Portrait" in 1990), the cameras were turned off to save power and memory for the instruments expected to detect the new charged particle environment of interstellar space. Mission managers removed the software from both spacecraft that controls the camera. The computers on the ground that understand the software and analyze the images do not exist anymore. The cameras and their heaters have also been exposed for years to the very cold conditions at the deep reaches of our solar system. Even if mission managers recreated the computers on the ground, reloaded the software onto the spacecraft and were able to turn the cameras back on, it is not clear that they would work.

Blackarrow
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posted 09-22-2015 04:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll take that as a "no." A pity, but more or less what I expected.

moorouge
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posted 10-18-2015 06:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Back in the seventies two Voyager spacecraft were sent on a mission to explore our universe. They carried onboard a gold disc that contained a record of our planet and species so when found it would give the finder some idea of who we were and what our planet was like.

Now, professor Chris Reilly at Lincoln University thinks that our world has changed so much that an update should be sent to the Voyagers while it is still possible.

Because of the distance involved and power limitations, such a message can be only 1000 characters long.

Reilly's suggestion is, "We hope that one day, in finding our Voyager you will know of our existence and our desire, like yours, to explore and better understand this universe we have shared with you. With peace and hope from the people of planet Earth."

What message would you send?

oly
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posted 10-18-2015 08:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What message would you send?

How about "If found, please return to NASA, John F Kennedy Space Centre, Merritt Island, Florida, USA, Planet Earth"?

Blackarrow
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posted 10-18-2015 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"We are a peace-loving species, but we're also more powerful than you could possibly imagine. Honestly."

moorouge
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posted 10-19-2015 02:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"If you find this, please don't reply. There are far too many people on our planet who think that they are masters of all they survey. A reply will spoil their day."

Blackarrow
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posted 10-20-2015 05:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On a more profound note (and I'm rapping my own knuckles): if the Voyagers avoid any significant space debris, those golden records could one day become the last surviving evidence of our species, our planet and our solar system. The little hairs on the back of my neck are rising.

Lunar rock nut
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posted 10-21-2015 06:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar rock nut   Click Here to Email Lunar rock nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
"We are a peace-loving species, but we're also more powerful than you could possibly imagine. Honestly."

And we taste terrible!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-27-2015 11:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The last original Voyager engineer is retiring, CNN reports.
The spacecraft was built in 1975 and has a computer from the Atari age. The last guy who truly understands how to program it is 80-year-old NASA engineer Larry Zottarelli.

And he's retiring.

...Zottarelli has been on the Voyager mission since the day it launched: September 5, 1977. He works on Voyager's flight data systems, which have just 64 kilobytes of memory (0.000064 gigabytes) and run a long-since retired computer language.

Jay Gallentine
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posted 11-03-2015 08:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A JPL source once told me of an obscure event in the Voyager flights known as the "Zottarelli Gap."

Apparently, after the flights were underway, Larry Zottarelli had approached mission managers to advise them of a brief break in communications which would happen at a specific day and time.

There was some cosmic/astronomical reason for this, and Zottarelli had worked out the exact time parameters of the event. And thus occurred the Zottarelli Gap.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-31-2017 07:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
First and Farthest: How the Voyagers Blazed Trails

Few missions can match the achievements of NASA's groundbreaking Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft during their 40 years of exploration. Here's a short list of their major accomplishments to date.

Planetary Firsts

Launched in 1977, the Voyagers delivered many surprises and discoveries from their encounters with the gas giants of the outer solar system: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Between 1977 and 1990, the mission attained these distinctions:

  • First spacecraft to fly by all four planets of the outer solar system (Voyager 2)

  • First mission to discover multiple moons of the four outer planets (both spacecraft):
    • 3 new moons at Jupiter
    • 4 new moons at Saturn
    • 11 new moons at Uranus
    • 6 new moons at Neptune

  • First spacecraft to fly by four different target planets (Voyager 2)

  • First spacecraft to visit Uranus and Neptune (Voyager 2)

  • First spacecraft to image the rings of Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune (Voyager 2)

  • First spacecraft to discover active volcanoes beyond Earth (on Jupiter's moon Io -- Voyager 1)

  • First spacecraft to detect lightning on a planet other than Earth (at Jupiter -- Voyager 1)

  • First spacecraft to find suggestions of an ocean beyond Earth (at Jupiter's moon Europa — both spacecraft)

  • First spacecraft to detect a nitrogen-rich atmosphere found beyond our home planet (at Saturn's moon Titan — Voyager 1)
Heliophysics Firsts

After Voyager 1 departed from Saturn in November 1980, it began a journey to where no human-made object had ever gone before: the space between the stars. On August 25, 2012, it crossed over into interstellar space, leaving behind the heliosphere — the enormous magnetic bubble encompassing our Sun, planets and solar wind. Voyager 2 set course for interstellar space after departing from Neptune in August 1989, and is expected to enter interstellar space in the next few years. Together the Voyagers have taught us a great deal about the extent of our sun's influence and the very nature of the space that lies beyond our planets.

  • First spacecraft to leave the heliosphere and enter interstellar space (Voyager 1)

  • First spacecraft to measure full intensity of cosmic rays — atoms accelerated to nearly the speed of light — in interstellar space (Voyager 1)

  • First spacecraft to measure magnetic field in interstellar space (Voyager 1)

  • First spacecraft to measure density of interstellar medium — material ejected by ancient supernovae (Voyager 1)

  • First spacecraft to measure solar wind termination shock -- the boundary where solar wind charged particles slow below the speed of sound as they begin to press into the interstellar medium (Voyager 2)
Engineering and Computing Firsts and Records

The Voyagers, which launched with nearly identical configurations and instruments, were designed to withstand the harsh radiation environment of Jupiter — the greatest physical challenge they would ever encounter. Preparations for the peril at Jupiter ensured that the Voyagers would be well equipped for the rest of their journeys, too. Engineering and computing advances that the Voyagers debuted set the stage for future missions.

  • First spacecraft extensively protected against radiation, which also set the standard for radiation design margin still in use for space missions today

  • First spacecraft protected against external electrostatic discharges

  • First spacecraft with programmable computer-controlled attitude and articulation (which means the pointing of the spacecraft)

  • First spacecraft with autonomous fault protection, able to detect its own problems and take corrective action

  • First use of Reed-Solomon code for spacecraft data — an algorithm to reduce errors in data transmission and storage, which is widely used today

  • First time engineers linked ground communications antennas together in an array to be able to receive more data (for Voyager 2's Uranus encounter)
Beyond that, the Voyager spacecraft continue setting endurance and distance records:
  • Longest continuously operating spacecraft (Voyager 2, which passed Pioneer 6's record on Aug. 13, 2012)

  • Most distant spacecraft from the Sun (Voyager 1, which passed Pioneer 10's distance on Feb. 17, 1998 and is currently about 13 billion miles, or 21 billion kilometers, away)

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-31-2017 07:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The New York Times Magazine shares the story of the Voyager flight-team engineers, 40 years on...
For the foreseeable future, Voyager seems destined to remain in the running for the title of Mankind’s Greatest Journey, which might just make its nine flight-team engineers — most of whom have been with the mission since the Reagan administration — our greatest living explorers. They also may be the last people left on the planet who can operate the spacecraft’s onboard computers, which have 235,000 times less memory and 175,000 times less speed than a 16-gigabyte smartphone. And while it’s true that these pioneers haven’t gone anywhere themselves, they are arguably every bit as dauntless as more celebrated predecessors. Magellan never had to steer a vessel from the confines of a dun-colored rental office, let alone stay at the helm long enough to qualify for a senior discount at the McDonald’s next door.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-05-2017 07:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
40 years out, NASA's twin Voyager probes inspire Golden Record revivals

Forty years after NASA launched a pair of robotic probes on journeys out into our solar system and beyond, the messages the spacecraft carried about us still resonate here on Earth, and as dispatches going out in space.

The "Golden Record," which is mounted to both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, convey sounds, images and greetings from the people of planet Earth on the chance that some distant extraterrestrial intelligence will one day intercept one of the probes. Now, four decades after the records were sent into space, artists who were associated with the original discs' creation, and an actor who had a fictional encounter with a Voyager probe on film, have launched projects to celebrate the Golden Record, extending its basic premise to another mission and bidding farewell to the Voyagers themselves.

Mike Dixon
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posted 12-01-2017 06:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...a set of thrusters aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft successfully fired up Wednesday after 37 years without use.
Simply staggering after all this time.

moorouge
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posted 12-02-2017 02:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Philip:
In July 1972, NASA accepted the proposal and by mid December 1972, they signed the project agreement, appointed Harris Bud Schurmeier as project manager and assembled a science steering group headed by professor Edward Stone of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
According to Carl Sagan in his book "Pale Blue Dot," the mission was conceived in the late 60's and was first funded in 1972.

It's worth remembering that it was only after the reconnaissance of Jupiter had been completed — the original objective — was approval given for the mission to be extended to the outer planets. From launch to Neptune encounter the programme cost each American less than a penny a year.

Sagan records also that but for the direct intervention of former astronaut Richard Truly, the then NASA Administrator, the picture of our family of planets would never have received the funding necessary. The people who actually worked out and designed the command sequence and exposure times were Candy Hansen (JPL) and Carolyn Porco (Univ. Arizona).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-09-2018 02:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From photojournalist Pauline Acalin on Twitter:
Soooo, uhhh, JPL "found" this relic "in a closet" while looking for things they could display at Yuri's Night. It's Serial Number 01 of the Narrow Angle Camera on Voyager 1. All the image testing was done using this exact lens.

SkyMan1958
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posted 10-05-2018 05:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems to me that this recent (drawn) picture of Voyager 2 near the edge of the Heliopause has some issues. Most notably it shows the Heliosphere streaming out behind the Sun, somewhat like the magnetic field around the Earth after it is affected by the Solar Wind.

This streaming out of the Heliosphere does not seem logical, as the Heliosphere should theoretically be affected on all sides equivalently, since it is cosmic rays etc. that are pushing against the Heliosphere. I would expect a more spherical Heliosphere.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-05-2018 05:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a NASA infographic that explains why the heliosphere is represented the way it is. Relevant to this discussion:
As the heliosphere travels through the interstellar medium, it leaves a long heliotail in its wake wave, much like a boat travelling through the water.

SkyMan1958
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posted 10-05-2018 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you Robert!

It seems to me that given the velocity of the Sun relative to the center of the Milky Way, approximately 514,000 mph, is relatively small compared to the speed of light, this effect would be minimal. Still, I guess there would be some shortening in the direction of the Sun's travel, and some lengthening behind the Sun. It also could be that the artist significantly exaggerated the effect to illustrate it.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-10-2018 09:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Voyager 2 has followed Voyager 1 into interstellar space.
Comparing data from different instruments aboard the trailblazing spacecraft, mission scientists determined the probe crossed the outer edge of the heliosphere on Nov. 5, 2018. This boundary, called the heliopause, is where the tenuous, hot solar wind meets the cold, dense interstellar medium. Its twin, Voyager 1, crossed this boundary in 2012, but Voyager 2 carries a working instrument that will provide first-of-its-kind observations of the nature of this gateway into interstellar space.

Voyager 2 now is slightly more than 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from Earth.

Blackarrow
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posted 12-10-2018 07:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Voyager 2 now is slightly more than 11 billion miles from Earth.
Far out, man!

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