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Voyager: Special Midweek Weekend Reads

We've received contact from outside our solar system! Rather than writing up an article about it, I've collected articles with further information about the data we've received from Voyager 2's first year in interstellar space. Enjoy!

NASA Voyager 2 spacecraft that was shot into interstellar space gives first findings after leaving solar system

The researchers said evidence gathered by both probes show that the interstellar medium, along with the heliopause and the interstellar magnetic fields, “form a complex interconnected dynamical system”.

The Voyagers were sent initially to study the outer planets including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, but then just kept on going.

A bonanza of data from the second Voyager to reach the Solar System’s edge

Another key difference is that Voyager 2 had a working solar-wind sensing instrument, which was non-functional on Voyager 1. The density of the solar wind is expected to thin out with distance from the Sun. Yet Voyager 2 found that wind increased in density as the probe approached the transition point and also became somewhat more energetic. This data suggests that the transition causes the solar wind to pile up against the boundary.

Interstellar space even weirder than expected, NASA probe reveals

Like oil and water, the solar wind and the interstellar medium don’t perfectly mix, so the solar wind forms a bubble within the interstellar medium called the heliosphere. Based on Voyager data, this bubble extends about 11 billion miles from the sun at its leading edge, surrounding the sun, all eight planets, and much of the outer objects orbiting our star. Good thing, too: The protective heliosphere shields everything inside it, including our fragile DNA, from most of the galaxy’s highest-energy radiation.

NASA's Voyager Spacecraft May Have 5 Years Left to Explore Interstellar Space

"It's cooling off, the spacecraft is getting colder all the time and the power is dropping," Ed Stone, the mission's project scientist and a physicist at Caltech, said during a news conference held Oct. 31 in conjunction with the publication of a handful of new scientific papers. "We know that somehow, in another five years or so, we may not have enough power to have any scientific instruments on any longer."

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