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NASA’s Voyager Brings Discoveries from Deep Space

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Last year on the 5th of November, Voyager 2 from NASA became the second spacecraft to leave the heliosphere. This is a group of bubbles and particles from the sun that provide protection. The Voyager pushed past Pluto’s orbit being 18 billion kilometers away from the earth. At this distance, it had driven past the border into interstellar space. Today, there are five papers present that document what the researchers found from the Voyager 2.

These papers are an accurate record of the five Voyager 2 operating science instruments, which include a magnetic field sensor, two energy studying instruments, and finally two instruments for investigating plasma. When combined, the recordings assist in giving a picture of how the cosmic barrier looks like, where the edge of our solar system is.

The sun’s heliosphere acts like a ship wading through the interstellar space that is filled with plasma. This is a type of gas having its particles removed off in their electrons. The space between stars is comprised of cosmic rays, particles pushed by exploding stars. The heliosphere protects the Earth from the raw types of radiation. 

Upon pushing past the heliosphere, the Voyagers energy particle detectors picked up changes. The particles from the heliosphere stopped, while high energized particles cosmic particles became more. This was confirmation that the Voyager had crossed past the heliosphere.

Previously, NASA scientists had no clue where the border of the heliosphere was by 2012. This was because the two prove sent, the Voyager 1 and 2, left the heliosphere at different times. The discovery form this was that the heliosphere was not constant but was fluid expanding and contracting around the sun. Researchers expect that the border of the heliosphere named the heliopause shifts with the sun’s position in the solar system.

The Voyagers were tasked with measuring the characteristics of plasma inside the heliosphere from plasma in the interstellar space. Through special instruments aboard the Voyager 2, scientists have confirmed that interstellar plasma is colder than heliosphere plasma.

The Voyager 1 sent back photos in 2012, showing that plasma in interstellar space is denser and warmer. This might be condensed. It also uncovered that most of the compression is due to the border between the heliosphere and interstellar space. However, scientists don’t understand what causes compression.

The Voyager also showed a possible leaking of particles from the heliosphere into the interstellar space. The 1st Voyager exited the heliosphere close to what scientists believe to bee its front side. However, this is minimal compared to the amount of leaking in Voyager 2’s flank side exit. 

This post was originally published on Food and Beverage Herald

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