“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

Happy 4th of July to Voyager 1 & 2 from Audioholics

by July 02, 2008
Voyager 2

Voyager 2

Lately I’ve been editorializing science based stuff I happen upon online while taking a break from the A/V stuff. Despite I am an avid Audioholic, I am also a geeky science guy as well. I suppose they kinda go hand in hand, but nonetheless after reading about the successes of our Voyager spacecrafts it kinda fueled my American pride that when we put our minds to a challenge, we can prevail.

From Jeremy HSU (Staff Writer of Space.com) “Voyager 2's journey toward interstellar space has revealed surprising insights into the energy and magnetic forces at the solar system's outer edge, and confirmed the solar system's squashed shape. Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 continue to send data to Earth more than thirty years after they first launched. During the 1990s, Voyager 1 became the farthest manmade object in space. “

“Each spacecraft has now crossed the edge of the solar system, known as termination shock, where the outbound solar wind collides with inbound energetic particles from interstellar space. The termination shock surrounds the solar system and encloses a bubble called the heliosphere.

"The solar wind is blowing outward trying to inflate this bubble, and the pressure from interstellar wind is coming in," said Edward Stone, physicist and Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. He and other researchers published a series of studies in the journal Nature this week that detail the Voyager findings.”

While Voyager 2 reached the southern edge of the solar system 7 billion miles (76 AU) from the sun, and Voyager 1 reached the northern edge 7.8 billion miles (84 AU) from the sun they helped confirm previous suspicions about the heliosphere bubble being squashed at its southern region.

The reason for that asymmetrical shape rests with an interstellar magnetic field that puts more pressure on the southern region of the solar system — something that may change over one hundred thousand years as that magnetic field experiences turbulence, Stone said.

So what does this all boil down to? Scientists had predicted that the solar wind would simultaneously slow down and heat up to a temperature near 1.8 million degrees F (1 million degrees Kelvin), but instead found that it reached just 180,000 degrees F (100,000 degrees Kelvin) at the solar system boundary. I guess this means it would take 20 nano seconds to deep fry some chicken compare to 2 nanoseconds that they originally thought. Oh well, intergalactic aliens have to wait a tad longer if they want it extra crispy.

But wait, the energy is still there, just in a different form. What they have found was the solar wind's missing energy ended up hitching a ride with interstellar intruders, Richardson said.

Neutral atoms that flowed in from outside the solar system became energized upon entering the heliosheath layer, and then ended up stealing 80 percent of the energy from the solar wind. Researchers have yet to puzzle out the significance of this. I am puzzled just trying to figure out what this is all about but hey its cool, I mean HOT.

An added mystery remains as to why the solar wind slows down early, as though anticipating running headlong into the termination shock. Researchers have begun looking into whether the solar wind somehow sheds energy ahead of time.

"Somehow the solar wind knows the shock is coming before it gets there, and theory says that shouldn't be," Richardson noted, adding that the solar wind speed drops from its supersonic speed of about 248 miles per second (400 km/s) to 186 miles per second (300 km/s) even before hitting the edge of the solar system. That speed falls more noticeably to about 93 miles per second (150 km/s) after the termination shock.

Huh? Did we detect smart wind that can apparently dodge space police speed traps? 

As scientists are baffled by these findings, both Voyager 1 & 2 plow on and, according to Stone, should reach interstellar space in 5 to 7 years. It amazes me how NASA is capable of making 30 year old technology transmit through billions of miles of space while I have difficulty getting my RF remote controls to operate reliably in my own home. Here’s a special Salute to American ingenuity and I hope all appreciate this little story as we celebrate our nations independence.


About the author:
author portrait

Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

View full profile