Thursday, December 6, 2007

Voyager 2 Approaches Termination Shock

Voyager 2 is set to cross the Termination Shock either this month or early next year. The termination shock is the point at which the solar winds change dramatically from about a million miles per hour to around 250,000 miles per hour, in other words, little Voyager is leaving home and the effects of our Sun. The Voyager will then be in the Heliosphere, after that intergalactic space. Voyager 2 launched August 20 1977 on a five year mission to explore our planets and their moons, well it is 30 years later and both the Voyager 1 spacecraft, (which by the way reached the Heliosphere back in 2004) and Voyager 2 spacecraft are still in daily contact with the Deep Space Network sending new and unknown information from afar. Voyager 1 is about 10 billion miles from Earth, and it takes 14 hours for information from the spacecraft to reach Earth, Voyager 2 is around 8.0 billion miles from Earth and it's signal takes 11 hours to reach us. Both spacecraft carry with them a message on a gold record just in case aliens decide to pull them over, hopefully friendly aliens, since we gave them the directions to get here.

Just a friendly reminder that the Geminids meteor shower is just a week away, look at the date of this article, did I miss a time warp or something? The above photo was taken by Anna over at My Only Photo. Anna got a good shot last August of a Perseid meteor, awesome shot, check out her other work as well. Anna is my Blackholes and Astrostuff roving reporter out east(unpaid), she has a a cool Story Blob blog you should check out as well. The Geminids will start Thursday December 13th at around 9 pm EST and continue on through the night until Gemini sets in the west early Friday morning. The Geminids are the most reliable of the meteor showers producing around 50 meteors an hour or about one a minute. The Geminids originate from the 3200 Phaethon asteroid. The shower appears to radiate from the Gemini Constellation which will be low in the east around 9pm, as the night progresses Gemini travels to the SE, then the south ,then SW then sets in the west around 10 am EST Friday, bonus, look for Mars, a bright orange object in the constellation as well that night.

Being Christmas time and all I thought I would link to my Buying a Telescope post, it has a lot of good information in it, if your looking to buy a telescope for someone special this year you should find this post useful. Isn't that a nice summery picture above? I decided to go out to my cold backyard and take a picture as it looks now.

I don't usually give names to my photos, but this one I call "WINTER SUCKS"


Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...


Woot for Voyager's success! I must Google that. Fascinating. I remember when it was sent into space. Was it THAT long ago? Wow.

I enjoyed your telescope winter pic. Our yards look the same, except mine is telescopeless. Another storm is due in Sunday. It hasn't stopped snowing since the last one. glad I have great blogs to visit like this one to keep my spirits up while I wait for the big thaw, which seems billions of miles away.

Hugs, JJ

Anna said...

Oh Bob, love the title of the last image, I feel the same. So far I been only able to photograph birds on my backyard, and how exciting is this.

Thanks for the info about the Voyagers, I didn't know anything about it, in fact I thought that there were people inside too traveling, lol.

Buying telescope oh I would, but that is very expensive gift for Anna at this point, lol.

BTW thanks for the info on meteors, I hope I can do something about it because my camera is very fussy when comes to cold weather, plus I been struggling with winter cold (like being sick), and all the xmas shopping not done yet, or lets just say not even started yet. But then gift certificates do wonders these days, lol.

As always nice article to read... Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Hi and Thanks JJ, yeah it was that long ago, 30 years,wow.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anna, I really hope that we don't have cloud cover here as well for the meteors, my camera is not so bad for cold as long as I don't stay out too long, like I want to anyways. :))

Rick said...

It frustates me to no end that a Voyager probe is operational after 30 years, yet we have to have a long-term plan to get on the Moon. The Playstation generation is still receiving information from an Atari in space!

I can't wait for the heliopause though... first time in history something sends back info after clearing our solar system totally: no solar wind! No longer will we be intersolar... we'll be in galactic space!

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Rick, I hear ya, it is frustrating about the space travel, we should have settled on the Moon by now and traveling to Mars, we have the technology. I will be excited as well when Voyager 1 is in Galatic space, hopefully in a few more years.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Talk about informative. Bob, one thing I love about your site is the fact you come up with things I never even would have realized. Example: Voyager 1. I had no idea that there was still contact with it. I also didn't know Voyager 2 was still active.
I will definitely keep an eye out for those meteor showers.
Your backyard setup is totally impressive.
...and yes.....winter sucks.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi and thanks JD! every year it is cold snowy and cloudy in December, I got my fingers crossed for next week, the Voyagers are very interesting for sure, for me anything that flys in space excites me,lol

Will said...

Bob - The NASA sight says the solar wind speed drops "abruptly". Do you know about how far this change takes place over? Is it like something being turned off, of is it still over thousands of miles and just abrupt by universe standards? Also, maybe I missed this detail, but how fast is V2 traveling out there?


Bob Johnson said...

Hi Will, good questions, first of all Voyager 2 is moving away from us at around 41,000 mph, Voyager 1 crossed the Termination Shock December 16/04, on that day the data that NASA recieved from Voyager 1,is an increase in magnetic activity due to a decrease in the solar wind, less solar wind means the magnetic field becomes denser and hotter, I'm not 100% sure but I believe they have it all graphed out over hours, so it happens over a short period of time.

DrowseyMonkey said...

Bob - your backyard looks like such a fun place to be! Even in the snow! It's like a playground for grown-ups :)

Bob Johnson said...

drowseymonkey,lol, a playground for grown-ups that are dressed very warmly. I still go out there eveyday to pretend, like I said cant turn on anything, or blow up and start on fire.

Anna said...

Hi Bob again, I just wanted to say nice Xmas tree. BTW I missed your message somehow so I just got it today, take anything you want, just don't take down my blog, lol. Good luck, Anna :)

Peter said...

Hi! Bob. What intrigues me is how Voyager 1 and 2 can go for so far and not get hit by something. Is it luck or something else? Regards Peter.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anna, I added your photo to my post, thanks, take down your blog? hey wouldn't you like a break?.lol

Anna said...

Hey Bob, yeahhhh breaks are nice, but then who wants to give up a 1 penny a day income, lol, through Google Ads. Thanks for nice comment about me and I never knew that you sneak out to read my Story Blob at night, lol, lol. Thanks again. Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Peter, good question, a bit of both luck and the fact that space is huge, that coupled with the fact the spacecraft is moving at 41,000 mph chances are in its favor nothing big enough to do any major damage is going to hit it. thats not to say that nothing ever will.

Bob Johnson said...

Lol Anna, yeah it's pretty tempting to take a break but who wants to risk that kind of money,lol.

Anna said...

Bob, now I have a question. The voyager are theoratically floating in space, but it must have some kind of battery in order to send data back, am I correct? Thanks, Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Anna, your right, they have a special long life type of battery called Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator or RTG, it uses plutonium 238, as the plutonium decays it gives off heat, the heat is converted to electricity by use of a thermoelectric device, too cool. The generators have enough power till at least 2020, by then both Voyagers should have been in galactic space for quite a few years.

Anna said...

Thanks Bob, now it all make sense. I guess it is okay to send radioactive stuff to aliens, lol. Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Anna,lol, as long as it doesn't make them mad, don't forget we gave them the directions to get here.

kml said...

Wow - hard to believe we had the technology back then to still have them working today, and the battery too! I think they need to take a page from our past and apply it to today's stuff - breaks down way too soon!

Hopefully the aliens have no clue what the record is - hey most kids today don't even know what they are.

Your little telescope house looks quite deserted - I bet it's longing for summer just like the rest of us!

Bob Johnson said...

Lol Kathy about the records, your right they don't make stuff like they use to, looking at my pod today, too bad it is too cold, the sky is actually been clear, supposed to warm up to -4 by next Wednesday, but with snow.

Anonymous said...

Will definitely be back here. I have a pilot friend I am sending over kids are going to love this as well. We are a few miles away from JSC.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi and thanks Hope, I am so jealous, that would be very cool to live that close to JSC! do they give tours? I'd be there everyday.

Pericles said...

Good luck to Voyager. I hope it is not a bumpy ride:

Bob Johnson said...

Hi pericles, me too, dont wanna loose the little guy after all this time.

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