NASA’s Voyager 2 Spacecraft Sends New Data Suggesting It Has Almost Left The Solar System

Excitement Increases as Voyager 2 sees a decrease in Heliospheric Particles

Gone, Gone, and almost left the heliosphere; that giant bubble full of particles pushed by the solar wind, at the edge of our solar system.

The Voyager 1 & 2 Mission timeline. To infinity and beyond. Image Credit: NASA.
The Voyager 1 & 2 Mission Timeline. To infinity and beyond. Image Credit: NASA.

In a recently released statement (Nov. 14) NASA has informed that they’ve received additional data from their Voyager 2 probe that helps mission engineers pinpoint where the spacecraft is located in relation to the solar system.

According to a statement from NASA, “in the past few days, we have received even more clues to suggest that that time seems to be on its way.”

And just last month, NASA noticed a spike in the counting rate of particles detected by the High Energy Telescope of Voyager 2’s Cosmic Ray Subsystem, or CRS.

The CRS detects high energy particles that come from outside the heliosphere.

When scientists notice a rapid increase in the number of particles, they can measure where (approximately) the spacecraft is located and if Voyager 2 is getting close to our heliosphere’s boundary, where these interstellar cosmic rays sneak in.

The newly-received data comes from the Low Energy Telescope, another CRS telescope on both Voyager 1 and 2.

Thanks to the telescope, scientists on Earth can count the rate of lower energy particles that typically originate within the heliosphere, as the spacecraft nears the heliopause these particles decline and ultimately reach zero at the boundary, where these particles escape into interstellar space.

This graph below illustrates the data gathered by the Low Energy Telescope and we can see that right around the beginning of November, it detected a pretty dramatic change where all of a sudden, the counting rate of low-energy particles dropped as the Voyager 2 spacecraft travels further away from Earth.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Ed Stone
Credit: NASA/JPL/Ed Stone

While it still has not dropped to nearly zero as it did when Voyager 1 entered interstellar space, it gives scientists an idea where the spacecraft is located.

NASA will continue monitoring the graph as one of several indicators to determine when Voyager 2 truly passes outside of the heliosphere.

Keep following the Sun Spot to get updates on the data we receive for Voyager 2, and check out JPL’s Voyager and GSFC’s Voyager websites to learn more about the Voyager missions.

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