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The Solar System gets bent

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The Solar System gets bent

Postby knapplc » Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:30 am

The real reason I'm posting this is because I was in fifth grade when Voyager went by Jupiter and Saturn, and I still remember the day when my teacher passed around the big pictures of these planets that Voyager took. These two little robots are probably the biggest reason I'm so interested in science and especially astronomy. I think it's awesome that these things are still sending back useful data 30 years after their launch.

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- New observations from NASA's long-running Voyager 2 spacecraft show the solar system is asymmetrical, likely from disturbances in the interstellar magnetic field, scientists reported Monday.


Voyager 2 sailed near the edge of the solar system this past summer following its twin, Voyager 1, in 2004.

The discovery came after the 30-year-old unmanned probe sailed near the edge of the solar system this past summer following its twin, Voyager 1, which reached that part of space in 2004.

Researchers have long suspected the solar system was bent, but never had direct evidence until now, said Voyager mission scientist Edward Stone of the California Institute of Technology.

Voyager 2 crossed a barrier in the solar system known as the termination shock in August, some 10 billion miles from where Voyager 1 passed through. The termination shock is the region where charged particles from the sun abruptly slow down as they collide with other particles and a magnetic field in interstellar gas.

Scientists believe the unevenness is caused by the interstellar magnetic field that is pitched at an angle to the plane of the Milky Way.

"The magnetic field is disturbing an otherwise spherical surface," Stone said at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Although Voyager 2 was the second probe to zip past the termination shock, scientists were nonetheless excited about the milestone. Unlike its twin, Voyager 2 had a working instrument that made the first direct measurements of the speed and temperature of the solar wind.

The nuclear-powered Voyager spacecraft, launched in 1977, are hurtling toward an uncharted region of space where the sun's influence wanes.

Voyager 1, the most distant of any manmade object, is traveling at 10 miles per second with its twin trailing close behind.

It will take about a decade before the probes reach the heliopause, marking the beginning of interstellar space and the end of our solar system.
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Re: The Solar System gets bent

Postby josebach » Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:46 am

That is pretty awesome. Makes you wonder why we still can't buy batteries that last longer than 10-12 hours.

Planned obsolescence, I guess.
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Re: The Solar System gets bent

Postby dream_017 » Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:07 pm

"The magnetic field is disturbing an otherwise spherical surface," Stone said at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

That was one rocking afterparty :-]


Seriously, I too love astronomy and this is pretty cool.
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Re: The Solar System gets bent

Postby Omaha Red Sox » Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:59 pm

What's more amazing than any of this is what these things are capable of. It's been gone for 30 years at 10 miles per second?! That's insane. 8-o :-°
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Re: The Solar System gets bent

Postby knapplc » Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:45 pm

Omaha Red Sox wrote:What's more amazing than any of this is what these things are capable of. It's been gone for 30 years at 10 miles per second?! That's insane. 8-o :-°

To be fair it hasn't been going that fast the whole time. It used a "slingshot" effect from the gas giants to get up to that speed.

But that's damned fast. Think about that! Ten miles - every second! 8-o
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Re: The Solar System gets bent

Postby moonhead » Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:53 pm

check out this pic. i'll link to it, it's like 60 megs.

http://imgsrc.hubblesite.org/hu/db/2004 ... ll_jpg.jpg
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Re: The Solar System gets bent

Postby Omaha Red Sox » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:12 pm

Damn, that's a big picture. It's still loading for me... :-b
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Re: The Solar System gets bent

Postby knapplc » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:38 pm

One benefit about working for the State - that picture took less than 45 seconds to load here at the office. ;-D


:^
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Re: The Solar System gets bent

Postby Tiki » Tue Dec 11, 2007 4:42 pm

Solar System to Knapp: "YOU GET BENT!"
Keep it lit.
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Re: The Solar System gets bent

Postby knapplc » Tue Dec 11, 2007 4:47 pm

Knapp to Solar System: "BTDTGTTSAWIO." ;-)
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