Voyager 1 on Verge of Exiting Solar System, At Least 15,000 Years Away


not exactly to scale

Big news in the world of fancy objects hurtling across vast distances in space, via Phys.Org:

"The latest data from Voyager 1 indicate that we are clearly in a new region where things are changing quickly," says Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. This is very exciting. We are approaching the solar system's final frontier."

The "frontier" he's referring to is the edge of the heliosphere, a great magnetic bubble that surrounds the sun and planets. The heliosphere is the sun's own magnetic field inflated to gargantuan proportions by the solar wind. Inside lies the solar system—"home." Outside lies interstellar space, where no spacecraft has gone before…

"From January 2009 to January 2012, there had been a gradual increase of about 25 percent in the amount of galactic cosmic rays Voyager was encountering," says Stone.

"More recently, however, we have seen a very rapid escalation in that part of the energy spectrum. Beginning on May 7, 2012, the cosmic ray hits have increased five percent in a week and nine percent in a month."

The sharp increase means that Voyager 1 could be on the verge of a breakthrough 18 billion kilometers from Earth.

When Voyager 1 actually exits the heliosphere, researchers expect to see other changes as well. For one thing, energetic particles from the sun will become scarce as the spacecraft leaves the heliosphere behind. Also, the magnetic field around Voyager 1 will change direction from that of the sun's magnetic field to that of the new and unexplored magnetism of interstellar space.

So far, neither of these things has happened. Nevertheless, the sudden increase in cosmic rays suggests it might not be long.

meanwhile, the fate of pioneer 10…

Though Voyager 1 is about to cross the heliopause, it's not out of the woods yet. From NASA:

In that sense, it can be said that [after crossing the heliopause] the spacecraft will be able to sample what space is like beyond our solar system. (If we define the solar system as the Sun and everything that primarily orbits the Sun, however, Voyager 1 will remain within the confines of the solar system until it emerges from the Oort cloud in another 14,000 to 28,000 years).

Voyager 1 is not expected to last so long. Voyager 2 isn't far behind, and of course a private craft may eventually outpace them.

Reason's February 2012 space issue

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  1. Yeah, I always wondered what the Klingons were doing mucking about inside the Oort Cloud in ST3.

    1. You would think that would be territorial waters or something.

      1. Monroe created a living doctrine. Long Live the Monroe Doctrine!

  2. If your idea is to just send something out as far as possible without worrying about it ever stopping or coming back, it seems like it wouldn’t be that hard to take a voyager sized probe and stick it on top of some very large chemical rockets in space and just accelerate it to some unGodly speed.

    1. the voyagers were launched in the 70’s using technology available back then. the ungodly speed, over 30,000mph, is a record for a man-made object (as is the distance) and was acheived by sling-shotting around jupiter saturn.

      1. I know. But they didn’t have it mate up with a rocket in orbit. If you did that I bet you could really achieve a high speed.

        1. John, don’t respond to the retard sockpuppet. Just ignore it.

        2. Experimental nuclear pulse generator!

          1. Orion Shall Rise!

        3. We’ve done better than that. The Helios probes achieved speeds of 157,078 mph.

          1. You know what else achieved really high speeds?

            1. MY EJACULATE!

            2. marie antoinette’s head?

    2. Or attach some extremely large chemical rockets to the bottom of the Capitol right before the SOTU address, and tell Obama he’s going to be the first president to issue the address from interstellar space.

      1. Of course we’d have to harden the outside of the building to ensure that life support could be maintained during the journey.

        /secret service boilerplate

    3. I believe you mean ludicrous or ridiculous speed and you don’t need a chemical rocket, you need the Schwartz.

  3. So the coming of V’Ger is approaching. Unfortunately, Persis Khambatta is no longer with us, so we will need to find another nubile Bollywood starlet to merge with the entity. Suggestions?

    1. I will take Sonam Kapoor for a 100 Alex.

      1. There are so many to choose from, and all so delectable.

        1. Way to SF the link brainiac.

          1. What the fuck? I guess the URL was too long. Just type “Bollywood starlets” into Google image search, and you will be fine.

        2. There are so many to choose from, and all so delectable.

          you Sugarfreed it.

    2. Also, ST:TMP reference. Real fucking original, Epi.

      1. Sour grapes, Mr. Slow. Beaten by two minutes.

        1. How did you know all the kids at school used to call me Mr. Slow? Which is weird anyway, because I could always run really fast, especially when they threw things at me.

          1. “I just moved here from Canada and they think I’m slow, eh?”

            1. That does it!

              We’re sending down Justin Beiber’s brother!

              Get the Avril Lavinge clone ready, too!

              1. Wait, y’all have Avril Lavigne clones? Can I have one? I promise not to let it sing.

              2. Say, how come there were no Canadians on TOS? I don’t mean the actors, of course, since Shatner and Doohan were both Canadian. I mean the characters. Does something awful happen to Canada?

                France, of course, was conquered by the UK–that’s why every single person from or in France in TNG speaks with a pronounced English accent.

                1. Something really awful must happen.

                  Riker was supposedly from Canada.

                  1. Nice try. Riker was from Alaska.

                    Canadian birth or residency is an automatic disqualifier for entrance into Starfleet Academy.

                    1. Aresen, why do you try to deceive us?

                  2. I thought Alaska.

                  3. I thought he was from Alaska. Does Canada get all grabby in the future?

                    1. I think in one episode some ensign, trying to butter up to Riker, mentioned him being from Canada. Riker bitchslapped him and said, “No, Alaska.” Pretty sure, but I can’t remember the details.

                    2. That’s gotta be the horrible part: Being merged into Alaska and turned into part of the ANWR.

                    3. I could swear there was a reference to French being a dead language on TNG once. Maybe Canada got destroyed in the process?

                    4. If Picard spoke it (and he did on several occasions), I understand why French became a dead language.

                      It would explain his interest in alien archeology, though.

          2. I thought your wife called you “Mr. Fast”?

            1. “Premature” =/= “fast”

              1. Didn’t we agree that the not eq symbol was the preferred !=?

    3. Or maybe Kangna Ranaut.

    4. Great, another episode of Big Bang Theory without the funny parts.

  4. When is Voyager scheduled to fall into a wormhole and crash on a planet populated by machine intelligences, merge with them, and return to earth to possess the body of some bald chick?

    1. john would bang vega

      1. And you’d bang Dr. Crusher. What’s your point?

        1. I didn’t think Wesley obtained a doctorate before going off to the Traveller’s galactic love nest.

            1. How much you wanna bet Wil Wheaton has a copy of that?

              1. Of course he does. It’s important to separate Wheaton, who seems okay, from Wesley, who sucked ass on levels the writers had to work to achieve. Poor Wil.

              2. If he doesn’t, he’s crazy.

            2. Prof. Moriarty suddenly materializes in front of Picard brandishing a silver pistol and shoots the Captain in his balls

              Picard collapses to the floor screaming in agony.

              That’s pure Shakespeare, baby.

              1. Please. He’d shoot Wesley.

                1. Anybody would. Moriarty, being pure unrepentant evil, would only smash Picard’s mailbox.

                  1. He wasn’t that evil. No one is. Mailboxes are sacrosanct.

        2. Well, who wouldn’t? Now Dr Pulaski is the test of a hardcore trekker.

          1. Can you throw in Dr. Mulhall?

    2. Reverend Camden’s career has been all downhole since then. Shoulda stayed in Starfleet.

    3. Well considering that V’Ger was Voyager 6 and we’re all the way up to Voyager *2*, I’d say not in the near future.

      1. You think we haven’t launched any secret probes?

        1. Face it, we’re screwed. The Psychlos are only a couple of years form pickup up one of our probes, and it’s all kill-gas and living in the mountains for us for the next thousand years.

  5. (If we define the solar system as the Sun and everything that primarily orbits the Sun, however,…

    So, in other words, the entire universe as believed by much of humanity a mere 400 years ago?

    1. and by sum wingnuts now

      1. We can ignore Greenpeace, however.

  6. 15,000 years?

    Congress may have passed a budget by then.

    Of course, the US Federal Debt will be $118,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 by that time. (Assuming interest rates stay at .25%, if they rise to 2%, add another 112 decimal places.)

    Tony, of course, will still be saying the government needs to stimulate the economy.

    1. By then paper money will have been phased out since the cost of producing a $100,000 bill (O’Bummer’s face on it) will be more than it is worth.

    2. “There are 10 to the 11th power stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it’s only a hundred billion. It’s less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.” – Richard Feynman

      1. I love that quote. We need to bring him back from the dead.

      2. A hundred billion? The federal deficit hits that in a month these days.

  7. Score one for the carbon units. (See, I can make a refernce, too.)

    1. Hey buddy, you like making “refernces”?

      1. Well, refernces are better than fernces. Kinda like how refried beans are better than just fried beans.

        1. What’s “re” about refried beans, anyway?

      2. I was just catching up on History Channel’s Hatfields and McCoys and that’s how they talk.

  8. I assume Voyager 1 is supposed to be obliterated by space dust by the year 30,000, so what the fuck was the point of the phonographic greeting we bolted to the side of it?

    1. To tell the Psychlos where we are, of course.

      1. Dammit, I missed this thread when it came out, and I’ve also been beaten to a Hubbard reference by many hours. Gah@

    2. You actually raise a reasonable question here: If voyager 1 suddenly drops communication, do we assume our alien overlords’ invasion is imminent or do we assume it ran out of solar energy to power its transmitter?

      1. Nitpick: Voyager 1 uses a nuclear battery, not solar power. Probes that are bound for Jupiter and beyond have to use nuclear batteries because sunlight is too weak at that distance to use solar power.

    3. My second question would be, “‘Johnny B. Goode’, but no ‘Roadrunner’ by The Modern Lovers?”

      1. Should have been a 96 hour version of Nyan-cat.

        1. All 17 1/2 minutes of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

          1. You fucking idiots are all wrong. They just needed to put this in there.

            1. If we wanted to see our sun explode, maybe.

      2. Luckily it was launched before Britney Spears.

    4. Carl Sagan invented social media the day he attached that to the side of Voyager. “Here’s me, Carl. And a student I’m fooling around with. Hi!”

    5. phonographic greeting we bolted to the side of it?

      If aliens find it they will bring it back to us wondering how to play the fucking thing…and we won’t have any players for it.

  9. We should take John Glenn and strap him into a rocket that goes 10x the speed of Voyager and have him report to us on her condition.

    (I’m trying to make amends for my crimes against humanity, guys.)

    1. That’s a good start. Providing His Armstrongness with an exact replicate (down to the atomic level) of his original mailbox would also be nice. With your head in it.

      1. He just needs to worry about what Gene Kranz is going to do when he catches up with him. I watched a Military Channel doc on the space program last week. My God that guy was a bad ass.

        1. A lot of those guys were bad asses. It’s easy for us to ignore the achievement and the badassery due to our politics. Which I think is a mistake. As far as stupid wastes of money go, that wasn’t the stupidest.

          1. They show the films where the Apollo 13 blew up in space. And Kranz never even sweats. The fucking space craft blew up and the guys are 100,000 miles out with maybe no way to get home and he is “okay work the problem”. That is textbook bad ass.

            1. That’s how well-reasoned people generally react in crisis situations: panicking that your shit won’t run does nothing, and you’re fucked if you don’t figure something out anyways, so it’s best to just figure out how to get home.

              My fiancee is not a well reasoned person. A blown-out tire completely shut her down for a day.

              1. That, and saying “Houston, I just shit myself” would not have played well on the live network feed.

                1. “Say, Houston, is the ship supposed to blow up like this? We’re mildly concerned about our impending deaths.”

                  The record for the mission, by the way, shows that most of the arguments and drama indicated in the movie were completely made up. They just did their jobs without a whole lot of bitching. Nowadays, the astronauts would probably whine on Facebook the whole time.

                  1. Now days one the astronauts would be a totally unqualified grade school teachers sent to the moon to show the world that girls can.

                    1. Or some old guy with political pull whose mailbox remains pristine and unconcerned in Ohio.

                  2. Or twitter: OMG the rocket xploded, LOL. Thought Glenn farted dust but it was the engine :-P. Houston, we’re PWNED if u cant fix us, LOL.

                    1. Actually, they wouldn’t notice the explosion, as they’d be too busy tweeting and looking at porn.

                    2. I legitimately wonder if anybody has had sex in space yet.

                      Seriously, there has to have been some fucking done in zero gravity if not for kicks then for research purposes.

                    3. It’s hard not to suspect some super-secret American or Russian “experiment”, right?

                    4. And a Russian monkey jacking it doesn’t count.

                    5. Yeah, gotta figure the monkeys pioneered ‘batin’, like most else.

                    6. I legitimately wonder if anybody has had sex in space yet.

                      Zero gravity cum shots are difficult to control. Which is why I never pull out.

            2. Was that from The Right Stuff?

              1. That was on Earth, if I remember correctly.

              2. The Right Stiff

                A prequel.

                1. The White Stuff.

                  A sequel.

  10. Back in the 70s, NASA created Voyager. In the 90s, they crashlanded shit on Mars because they couldn’t convert units between English and Metric.

    Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

    1. Average age of NASA engineer when we faked the moon landing: 27

      Average age of NASA engineer/bureaucrat as of the last space shuttle launch: 54

      1. My dad worked on Apollo. He was actually still an engineering student during the beginning. Not even a degreed engineer. It was that cutting edge at the time.

        What’s great is that we’re going to see times like that again, only for sustainable profit. If the country doesn’t completely fall apart first.

        1. Ah for the good old days.
          My grandfather worked on the Apollo’s, ran a lab with double digit phd’s working for him, and he dropped out of high school and joined the air corps in WWII.

          Never happen today.

    2. In the 1960s, JFK challenged the nation to put a man on the moon in less than ten years.

      Today, with far more advanced technology, President Obama is talking about sending someone to an asteroid eventually, once the technology gets a little more advanced.

      1. Obama is talking out of his asshole then. Unless our nation is willing to cede the space race to private enterprise (which it should), there’s no way in hell we get back to the moon before 2022.

        And did you notice that Obama is basically saying, “if only I had the technology, we’d be mining asteroids,” in the way he says “if only the Republicans gave me my way, we’d solve all the world’s problems.”

        He needs to shit in one hand and wish in the other for a little lesson in reality.

        1. The government should get the hell out of the way. It can buy access to space like the rest of us, and it can buy military spaceships like it buys aircraft today. Provided it stays the hell out of the way for everything else.

          1. until privateers manufacture their own lift vehicles und construct their own launch facilities, then corporate welfare prevails

            1. Say, where did the government get all of those rockets from? Did they build them at some government manufacturing plant?

              1. I hesitate to describe Morton Thiokol and General Dynamics as ‘private enterprise.’

                1. No, but they aren’t the government, either. As we can see from what’s happening now, those kinds of companies are so nimble that they’re mostly sitting and watching as New Space takes over manned spaceflight.

              2. not at spacex either

                1. Actually, that’s wrong. If Pilot sells pens to the government, that doesn’t make it a government enterprise.

  11. The heliosphere is not a bad place to separate the solar system from interstellar space, notwithstanding the debris out there. So at least our robot children will soon be interstellar.

    Armstrong, Voyager, Hitler. The triumvirate of 20th century history.

    1. Armstrong, Voyager, Hitler. The triumvirate of 20th century history.

      You left out Obama!


      1. I assume his WH staff will rewrite the 20th Century to include his accomplishments.

        1. And launch them into space!

      2. People are going to forget Obama by 2013. He’s that memorable. Even historians will eventually merge him into Osama bin Laden, who will be, for a while, oddly remembered as president of the U.S.

        1. Considering the amount of legislation Osama generated, it’s not very odd.

        2. You think you are kidding. The guy who does the Naked Archeologist shows made a great point about that. He was talking to an archeologist about the idea that David and Solomon being the same guy that was turned into two separate stories. So Simca being a Canadian tells the guy, some day they will be debating the great Wayne Gretzky Bobby Orr debate. They have to be the same person. Two guys both grow up in Canada playing hockey become legends. No way, it was one guy whose exploits got split into two stories over the years.

          1. I foresee this post becoming so legendary that it splits in two someday.

        3. You think you are kidding. The guy who does the Naked Archeologist shows made a great point about that. He was talking to an archeologist about the idea that David and Solomon being the same guy that was turned into two separate stories. So Simca being a Canadian tells the guy, some day they will be debating the great Wayne Gretzky Bobby Orr debate. They have to be the same person. Two guys both grow up in Canada playing hockey become legends. No way, it was one guy whose exploits got split into two stories over the years.

        4. I would assume they would find every reference to him as a typo on Crimson Tide promotional material. Assuming they win a few more national championships.

            1. Barrack Hussain Obama, Osama Bin Ladin, future linguists will be getting PHDs explaining how those are really just variations of the same name.

              1. O’Bama: The personification of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Indicative at the pronounced anti-Irish animus of the late 20th/early 21st century.

              2. The King who got the Noble medal for blowing up the twin towers of York and killing himself….

                Anyway this is all bullshit. The stuff we write down today has a longer half life then stuff written down 4000 years ago…if only because we have so many more damn copies of it and so many damn mediums we have it written on.

                We know the Emperors of Rome from 2000 years ago pretty damn well. We even know some of the shit they said and much of what they did. The Aztec kings from 1000 years ago….not so much. There is a reason for that.

        5. He had more influence on US foreign and domestic policy than the last 7 presidents put together.

          1. Well, he was a crappy president if you asked me.

            1. I said ‘influence’. I didn’t distinguish good and bad.

              I only went back 7 because I think Nixon’s starting the WoD trumps almost everything since for evil influence.

              1. I didn’t vote for bin Laden. His foreign policy was obscure, and his domestic policies were practically nonexistent, except for some odd reliance on the broken windows fallacy.

                1. I still can’t believe he won. I don’t know a single person who voted for him.

                    1. Bush the Lesser, Gore the Bore, Kerry the Ketchup, McCain the Depends, Obama the Drone King, Osama the Terrorist.

                      Guess which one said the maximum tax rate should be 10%?

                    2. Really? Guess he was more libertarian than we thought. Too bad he was assassinated.

                    3. Or was he?

  12. How is it that a solar-powered radio transmitter built with 1970’s technology can still maintain a communications link from 18 BILLION kilometers away on the edge of the effin’ solar system, but my fancy RCA HDTV antenna can’t reliably pick up a digital TV signal from Buffalo in my apartment?

    1. Because Obama worked on the Voyager radio, as a kid in Chicago. Or Hawaii. Or wherever he was then.

      1. In his autobiography it was Kenya.

    2. Well, if you would just put the Goldstone radio antenna on your roof, you’d pick up the Buffalo signal no problem.

    3. They’re nuclear dude. Evil, evil nukes.

      1. Nukes were about to be nonevil, then the fucking tsunami came. The Japanese did us all a disservice in building a plant in a vulnerable area without adequate safeguards.

        1. I have heard several people mention that in regards to nukes being dangerous. I can’t believe how scared people can get over nuclear energy.

          1. Just thinking about all of the nuclear energy pent up in my body makes my teeth chatter.

            1. Let it out man, you shouldn’t bottle up all that material. You’re probably letting your antimatter/matter energy build up too.

              1. What makes matter and antimatter annihilate one another? I always get lame, tautological answers to that question.

                1. Partisan hatred.

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