We're all ears as Voyager 2 goes Interstellar
by Staff Writers
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Dec 12, 2018
Australia's national science agency, CSIRO, is supporting NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft as it enters interstellar space - becoming only the second spacecraft, after its twin Voyager 1, to reach this milestone.
Voyager 2 is approximately 18 billion kilometres from Earth. Voyager mission scientists have been closely monitoring the spacecraft for signs that it has exited the 'heliosphere,' a protective bubble created by our Sun as we move through our galaxy.
NASA has announced that on 5 November 2018, Voyager 2 crossed the outer edge of the heliosphere to reach the space between the stars.
On 8 November 2018, CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope joined NASA's Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC), part of NASA's Deep Space Network, to receive unique and historic data from Voyager 2. This provides a clearer picture of the environment through which Voyager 2 is travelling. The Parkes telescope will continue to receive downlink data into early 2019.
Because of Voyager 2's location and distance from Earth, CDSCC and the Parkes telescope are the only facilities in the world that are capable of having contact with the spacecraft. Voyager 2 isn't able to record its data on board - it transmits it directly from the instruments back to Earth - making it essential to receive as much of this vital data as possible.
CSIRO Chief Executive Dr. Larry Marshall said CSIRO was here to solve the greatest challenges with science. "So we're proud to help NASA solve the scientific challenge of capturing this once in a lifetime opportunity as Voyager 2 ventures into interstellar space," Dr. Marshall said. "Our team at Parkes has partnered with NASA on some of humanity's most momentous steps in space, including the landing of the Mars Rover Curiosity and, almost fifty years ago, the Apollo 11 Moon landing.
"Our long-standing relationship with NASA stretches back more than 50 years, creating breakthrough solutions from science, and fuelled by our shared ambition to push the boundaries of exploration to benefit life back on Earth."
CSIRO Director of Astronomy and Space Science Dr. Douglas Bock explained how the additional support from Parkes would track Voyager 2.
"The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, which CSIRO operates on behalf of NASA, has been providing command, telemetry and control for the twin Voyager spacecraft since their launch in 1977," Dr. Bock said.
"NASA has engaged our 64-metre Parkes radio telescope to 'combine forces' with CDSCC's 70-metre antenna, Deep Space Station 43 (DSS43), to capture as much scientifically valuable data as possible during this critical period.
"The Parkes telescope will be tracking Voyager 2 for 11 hours a day while the spacecraft is observable from Parkes. CDSCC's DSS43 will also track Voyager 2 for a number of hours both before and after Parkes, expanding the available observation time. This is a highlight of CSIRO's decades' worth of experience operating large, complex spacecraft tracking and radio astronomy infrastructure."
Voyager 1 crossed into interstellar space in 2012, while Voyager 2 has been on a different trajectory through our solar system. On its journey, Voyager 2 has famously flown past Jupiter (in 1979), Saturn (in 1981), Uranus (in 1986) and Neptune (in 1989), returning valuable images and data.
NASA's Voyager 2 reaches interstellar space
Washington (AFP) Dec 10, 2018
NASA's Voyager 2 probe has left the protective bubble around the Sun and is flying through interstellar space, becoming the second human-made object to travel so far, the US space agency said Monday. The announcement came six years after its twin spacecraft, Voyager 1, broke the outer boundary of the heliopause, where the hot solar wind meets the cold, dense space between stars, known as the interstellar medium. Voyager 2 is now more than 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from Earth, havi ... read more
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