December 9th, 2012 19:13 EST
NASA`s Voyager 1 Discovers Previously Unexplored Region of Outer Space
Charging ahead like a two-hundred and forty-five pound running back (not too many that size now days) NASA`s Space Craft Voyager 1 is heading into what is known as interstellar space. There is really no stopping it from taking our space mission to the next level or even the next century in exploring our Solar System. It is really heading where no man or even no space craft (Martian, alien, etc.) has ever gone before.
The Voyager has entered new regions on the ends of our solar system that NASA scientists believe and even feel is the final area of space to cross before reaching the region known as interstellar space. The new region is known by NASA scientists as a magnetic highway for charged particles because our sun`s magnetic field lines link up and connect in this region of the solar system to the magnetic field lines in interstellar space.
The charged particles in our bubble of the solar system that the sun blows around zoom out at this point which now allows the higher-energy charged particles to stream in. Sort of like a swap of weaker charged particles for higher-energy charged particles.
The interesting concept about these charged particles is that before they enter this region of space they bounce around in all directions; sort of like the same concept as how molecules of air bounce around and speed up when heated up. Like when your TPS (Tire Pressure Sensor) light comes on in the winter as you start up your car on those early bone chilling mornings and start to back up your half closed eyes (still waking up because your morning coffee is now just kicking in) you see a small light come on from your dash board lights. You stop for one second and think What the He*l else can go wrong with this lemon I am driving! " (not that I have ever done that) and then suddenly realize it is only your sensor warning you that your tire pressure is below the manufactures standards for safety and you need to now go get air in your tires.
When it is cold out, especially when the temperature dips below freezing and your car sits all night without moving, the molecules in your tires move at a slow rate thus having less inflation. If your tires are filled exactly to manufactures standards, then once you start to move the molecules sort of wake-up from sitting all night and as you increase speed friction starts to build causing heat inside your tires to speed up the molecules and inflate your tires as the molecules bounce around the confined space inside your tires like balls on a pool table crashing around as the white queue ball slams into the head rack.
As you drive and your tires inflate more with faster molecules and heat then your TPS light may go off once your tire sensor sees the pounds per square inch (PSI) is at manufactures standards. If not, then of course the TPS light stays on making you mad because you now have to make an early morning stop to the air machine at the local Chevron gas station (which normally does not work properly) and have to get out half asleep in temperatures that would make a ground hog stay well underground.
The same concept goes for the charged particles being blown around the solar system by the sun`s energy. They are heated up from the sun`s rays and energy and fly around our solar system like a swarm of flies dodging a sea of angry Hornets.
The difference is these charged particles are trapped inside the heliosphere like they were small automobiles on local roads. The scientists heading up the Voyager mission still refer to this region of space as still being inside our solar bubble because the direction of the lines of the magnetic fields are unchanged but once Voyager breaks through the wall that separates our solar system from interstellar space the magnetic field lines are predicted to change.
Edward Stone, Voyager who is a project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology,
Pasadena, California shed some light on this concept by saying, "Although Voyager 1 still is inside the sun`s environment, we now can taste what it`s like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway. We believe this is the last leg of our journey to interstellar space. Our best guess is it`s likely just a few months to a couple years away. The new region isn`t what we expected, but we`ve come to expect the unexpected from Voyager." (Stone, E.)
Voyager has become the magician of NASA space travel over the last few years. With every wave of the wand (Voyager traveling through space) the audience (NASA Scientists and Astronomers) never know what will be unveiled as the magician (Voyager) marvels the audience (NASA Scientist and Astronomers) with each leg of travel.
Voyager has been moving and exploring since 2004 and at that time it crossed a point in space known as the Termination Shock which is located in the solar systems heliosphere`s outer layer also known as the Heliosheath. In this area of space the stream of charged particles from our sun which is also known by scientists and science buffs as the solar wind region. These particles in this region suddenly and abruptly slowed way down. This puzzled scientists because these fast-moving and charged particles were moving at supersonic speeds. These particles also at the same time became turbulent. All this was detected by Voyager which before this was in a consistent environment and then suddenly mixed it up a bit when detecting the outward speed of the solar winds had slowed to zero. This raised a big flag with scientists and told them that Voyager must be in some other part of our solar system thus finally discovering that Voyager is at the end of our solar system as we know it and ready to leap to interstellar space.
"If we were judging by the charged particle data alone, I would have thought we were outside the heliosphere," said Stamatios Krimigis, who is the principal investigator of the low-energy charged particle instrument which is based at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland. He went on to say, "But we need to look at what all the instruments are telling us and only time will tell whether our interpretations about this frontier are correct." (Krimigis, S.)
Thus, more exploring and data analyzing will be necessary to support the hypothesis that scientists are so desperately wanting to find out if Voyager really is at the ends of our solar system and ready to start a new exploration in interstellar space; like it was said, only time will tell and more data collection by Voyager and NASA scientists.
One stumper that scientists will need to figure out before supporting and confirming this hypothesis that Voyager has made the leap into interstellar space is why the magnetic fields became stronger each time Voyager entered the highway region and when entering this highway regions the direction of the magnetic fields stayed the same and did not change. Why?...
Leonard Burlaga who is a Voyager magnetometer team member based at NASA`s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland commented on this by saying, "We are in a magnetic region unlike any we`ve been in before " about 10 times more intense than before the termination shock -- but the magnetic field data show no indication we`re in interstellar space. The magnetic field data turned out to be the key to pinpointing when we crossed the termination shock. And we expect this data will tell us when we first reach interstellar space." (Burlaga, L.)
So, the question is, has Voyager broken the solar system wall and made it to interstellar space? Or, is it just at the end of our solar system wondering aimlessly to nowhere? It`s now the same concept of watching your favorite nighttime soap opera show and has your juices are flowing at the climax of the main plot taking a huge turn in the opposite direction and you wait for the answer at the end of the show and suddenly you see To be continued " flash across your plasma televisions screen "the same concept goes for leaving us hanging until NASA scientists and astronomers find the true answer to, is Voyager 1 in interstellar space yet?
If any of you remember, both Voyager I and Voyager II were launched into space back in 1977. Both of these NASA exploration vehicles are very seasoned in exploring the unknown. At least of these space craft has made the journey to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Voyager one has traveled so far since 1977 it is about eleven-billion miles (18 billion kilometers) away from our sun and the signal and data transmitted from Voyager I being this far away takes approximately 17 hours to travel to Earth and NASA.
Voyager II its sister craft is approximately nine billion miles (15 billion kilometers) away from the sun and still going strong in exploring space. Scientists do not believe that Voyager II has reached the magnetic highway like Voyager I has done, maybe? But Voyager II is right on the heels of Voyager I and continues to drive on.
NASA VOYAGER 1 PROBE ENCOUNTERS NEW REGION IN DEEP SPACE, (http://www.nasa.gov/voyager)
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