Feeds

Voyager ticks one box for interstellar arrival

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

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.