NASA's Voyager 2 probe maybe about to enter Interstellar Space

Mindy Sparks
October 8, 2018

In May 2012, Voyager 1 experienced an increase in the rate of cosmic rays approximately three months before Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause and entered interstellar space.

The only details known to the NASA team about the Voyager 2 is that it is nearly 11 billion miles (17.7 billion kilometers) away from home.

Soon, Voyager 2 will join it, with the probe's sensors detecting a gradual increase in cosmic rays over the last few months. The spacecraft's Low-Energy Charged Particle (LECP) instrument also detected about 5 percent increase in higher-energy cosmic radiation, notes NASA.

Heliosphere is a bubble-shaped region of space that encases all the planets in our solar system and effectively protects them against radiation.

Though, Scientists noted that this increment is not a definitive sign that the probe is about to cross the heliopause.

"We're seeing a change in the environment around Voyager 2, there's no doubt about that", stated Ed Stone, Voyager project manager, at Caltech.

It appears that Voyager 2 will be following its sibling through one of the ultimate barriers in spaceflight: the border of interstellar space. The team members behind the project explain that Voyager 2 is now in a different location in the heliosheath - outer region of heliosphere - which means that the timeline of its exit from the Solar System will be different than Voyager 1. With that being said it is impossible to know where the Voyager 2 is from the heliopause and when it will be passing through it, but at least the scientists will permanently keep an eye on the spacecraft to make sure everything is alright. A good portion of these particles are blocked by the heliosphere, so the ground teams are expecting Voyager 2 to measure an increase in cosmic rays as it reaches and crosses the heliosphere.

The agency's Voyager 1 spacecraft had a similar experience in 2012 shortly before leaving the solar system. Launched by NASA from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the Voyagers were originally created to conduct closeup studies of Jupiter and Saturn, Saturn's rings, and the larger moons of the two planets. But as the mission went on, and with the successful achievement of all its objectives, mission scientists and engineers at JPL saw it was possible to have them do additional flybys of the two outermost giant planets, Uranus and Neptune. NASA revealed that the spacecraft is nearing the edge of the Solar System.

The Voyager spacecraft were built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which continues to operate both.

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