Feeds

Voyager ticks one box for interstellar arrival

“Very rapid escalation” in galactic rays hints at new region of SPAAAAAACE

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The venerable Voyager 1 spacecraft seems to be a little closer to leaving our Sun's neighbourhood behind and entering interstellar space, says NASA.

The space agency has outlined three criteria that must be satisfied before Voyager will be deemed to have left the heliosphere, the first of which is detection of galactic cosmic rays. Voyager apparently detected a 25 per cent increase in such rays between January 2009 and January 2012, but recent readings apparently surpass that rate of growth and represent a “very rapid escalation” in galactic ray detection.

Where are the voyagers?

The Voyagers are here, NASA says

The second factor NASA believes could point at crossing the threshold between solar space and interstellar space is measurement of energetic particles found near the sun. The agency's recent report on Voyager 1's progress says the probe has found a “slow decline” in the prevalence of such particles, but there's no smoking gun just yet. Indeed, NASA says if Voyager had passed beyond the heliosphere we would expect their presence to drop off “precipitously”.

The third sign that Voyager 1 has well and truly left the building would be a re-orientation of magnetic fields around the craft. There's no sign of that yet.

NASA officials nonetheless gushed about the possibility that Voyager 1 might break through into interstellar space real soon now. Indeed, it may already have done so, as the agency says it's crunching recently-arrived data in ongoing efforts to ascertain just what's going on out there.

Voyager's high gain antenna, which sends science data back to earth, is said to send data at rates “ … as high as 7.2 kilobits per second”. Recent reports suggest the probe is 17,911,000,000km from earth, so we're pretty sure there's a few packets dropped along the way. That could make ascertaining just when the craft enters interstellar space a tad tricky, you'd imagine. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.