back to article NASA: Humanity has finally reached into INTERSTELLAR SPACE

Data beamed back from the Voyager 1 spacecraft has shown that the probe has left our Solar System and entered interstellar space, becoming the first manmade object to travel beyond mankind's home system. At a press conference on Thursday, NASA engineers said that the probe actually made the leap last year after travelling 12 …

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A billion-billionth of a watt... an attowatt?

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The subheading is also erroneous

Actually, NASA announced that voyager has entered interstellar space. This isn't the same as leaving solar system. So long as Sun's gravity exerts the dominant force on the craft, it will technically be part of the solar system. Voyager has left the heliosphere, which is a bubble of charged particles emanating from the sun. Solar system actually extends as far as outer reaches of the Oort cloud, which may be over a light year away. For a more scientifically accurate take, here is the NASA press release: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-277

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The subheading is also erroneous

Actually a group of astrophysicists announced that voyager has entered interstellar space. The US dept. of propaganda then publicly pissed at them. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/16/boffins_claim_voyager_has_already_left_the_solar_system/

Now, a month later, said US dept. of propaganda has heroically popped up to make the glorious announcement itself. The science is all jolly interesting and all but I can't help feeling sad it's soiled by shitty political pissing displays like this.

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Re: The subheading is also erroneous

NASA's p.r. apparatus respects the "embargoes" imposed by stuck-up journals such as Science and Nature: "Thou shalt not release the results [paid for with taxpayer dollars] until our print edition hits the mailroom." It's anachronistic, it's arguably unfair to the taxpayers, but otherwise the fancy journals (beloved of faculty promotion committee coup-counters) won't publish the papers. The paper was probably submitted a couple of months ago.

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@mr.K

Because it's 17 hours. See the common theme now?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The subheading is also erroneous

NASA published its "1. The kids think they've discovered something... 2. All our models know better... 3. WE built, WE control it, WE own it, it's ours, OURS, OURS, mwahaha..." press release on 15th Aug.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/voyager/voyager20130815.html#.Ug2cqGRgaOW

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Re: The subheading is also erroneous

In my experience, the embargo is really just a handy way of maximizing press impact, rather than some kind of evil plot. I'm not sure there's any likelihood a journal would refuse to publish a "press-worthy" paper just because the authors didn't want to respect an embargo - it'd still be a good paper, and still publishable.

Remember that this is science news, and is not really all that time sensitive, nor does it matter which day you hear about it. You still get the news (and so not unfair to taxpayers, who aren't denied anything important), just when the science journalists have had a week or so to talk to the authors and get a proper write up done.

Further, in practical terms, the sanctions for breaking an embargo are most likely as weak as "we wont give you pre-notice again" ... which hardly stops any journalist from reporting on the other 99.99% (or whatever) of science that there is out there. Just (eg) subscribe to some journal (ore arXiv) RSS feeds if you want non-embargoed science.

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Trollface

Re: The subheading is also erroneous

And...

In't it spelt spaaace?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The subheading is also erroneous

"In't it spelt spaaace?"

Only if it's preceded by "Piiiiigs iiiiiiin".

Also...

"In't [sic] it spelt"

And "in't" *that* ironic.... don't you think? It's like raaaaaiiiiaaaaaain..... on your wedding day.

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Anonymous Coward

Never Defy The Rule

I wouldn't dare defy the rule: every post correcting a spelling or grammar error must contain a spelling or grammar error.

Other sites might be fairly lax about this, but El Reg? Never!

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Joke

Re: A billion-billionth of a watt... an attowatt?

More like "watt did you say?"

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Pint

They just don't build 'em like they used to.

Fly on, Voyager. Bon Voyage.

A toast to the engineers involved.

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Re: They just don't build 'em like they used to.

Most of them will have retired by now or be in end of career senior management roles and their work is still out there doing what it's supposed to be doing. That's cool.

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Re: They just don't build 'em like they used to.

Just imagine, if they were musicians or publishers they'd still want paying for every extra mile it travels.

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Re: They just don't build 'em like they used to.

Kind of strange to think that it launched the year I was born. Every moment of my life that ship has been speeding into space...

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Thumb Up

Re: They just don't build 'em like they used to.

"Just imagine, if they were musicians or publishers they'd still want paying for every extra mile it travels."

But in this case, they might actually deserve it!

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Re: They just don't build 'em like they used to.

With respect, they still can build'em. There is a rover on Mars that was supposed to only work for 3 months, it's now in it's twelth year.

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Pint

Re: They just don't build 'em like they used to.

When they deal with the unknown they over-engineer and make worst-case guesses on how long it will last.

We've been very lucky that space exploration has been less hostile to our probes than our worst fears.

I'm glad I've lived to see a probe enter Interstellar space, I just hope I live long enough to see us start the colonization of our tiny corner of the galaxy.

I for one will be raising a pint to Voyager 1!

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Thumb Up

Re: They just don't build 'em like they used to.

btk_ wrote:

"Kind of strange to think that it launched the year I was born. Every moment of my life that ship has been speeding into space..."
It was launched a few months before I was born, is now 12 billion miles from earth and is still more useful than me! :D

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Pint

Re: They just don't build 'em like they used to.

I watched its launch on TV, followed its progress past the planets, had a whole set of NatGeo magazines devoted to Viking, Pioneer, and Voyager probes. Great days, and still these probes carry on. Hats off and raise our glasses to all those people who made this possible

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Anonymous Coward

Re: They just don't build 'em like they used to.

"There is a rover on Mars that was supposed to only work for 3 months, it's now in it's twelth year."

An achievement indeed. But their predictive skills are out by a factor of almost 50 and counting. Not that I'm complaining about the longevity but presumably the more accurate the prediction the less required over-engineering and thus allowing more science to be carried out for the same cost. But we live and learn, hopefully.

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And in a little while...

...the signals will abruptly stop, as it dives into a wormhole, and eventually becomes Vejur...

...or not.

Well, one lives in hope of something interesting and out of the ordinary happening, anyhow.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And in a little while...

The signal will stop when it crashes into the crystal sphere ...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And in a little while...

Mmm - Ilia...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And in a little while...

No, the NASA engineers watched ST:TMP and decided it wasn't worth the risk going to Voyager 6 and canceled the missions...

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Amazing

Voyagers are a marvel of engineering. I doubt there are any space-related projects today that will not only be around in 36 years, but perform go above and beyond what they were designed to do. ISS, for instance, was just recently completed, has been glitchy all throughout and will be de-orbited in just 7 years.

If there's anything that the latest NSA saga shows, it is that US is still capable of grandiose and audacious projects. It just would've been nice to have that spirit applied towards something constructive that advances our civilization and unites people of the world in being proud of human achievement (rather than uniting them in disliking US).

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Alien

Re: Amazing

First (and only) British launched satellite which is even older, might still be alive, but didn't go quite so far away. It may have travelled further but my calculator is broken and ICBA to work it out :-)

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Future Past

It is pretty cool that thing is out there just sailing happily along. Designed and with 'rudimentary' computers, made with 'primitive' hardware and assembled by blue collar machinists.

It is easy to get caught up in the whole 'the future is tomorrow' idea but forget that the future already happened and all we've done is made incremental additions to it. Big ideas aren't popular anymore and it is sad. In todays climate NASA would be laughed out of the Capitol Building if they said they wanted to launch a probe into the void just for the hell of it.

People can no longer wrap their minds around the intrinsic value of doing something just because they can. Everything must have a purpose and that purpose is too often tied solely to either making more money or destroying something. Those things are old hat and have proven highly overrated. If we continue on this path we will have successfully mastered time travel, but with a portal only goes backwards and doesn't provide a way to return.

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Re: Future Past

"Big ideas aren't popular anymore and it is sad. In todays climate NASA would be laughed out of the Capitol Building if they said they wanted to launch a probe into the void just for the hell of it."

Well actually it has..

New Horizons will reach Pluto in July 2015, about 10 years after it's launch.

What has changed is opportunity for "Grand Tour" missions (which originally were meant to do all 4 gas giants, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, in 1 go) comes along about ever 100-120 years (and Voyager was still split in 2 parts due to funding and missing the exact launch window back then).

The other thing is the hostility to using RTG's for the power source (and the fact NASA is having real trouble getting any more Pu238 made).

I'd also note that ISS started construction started construction in 1998 with the Zaryla module and will likely be extended past 2028, IE 30 years+.

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Re: Future Past

It is not a technical or economic issue, but rather a political issue. Deep space probes are difficult to get funded because they require a RTG generator. It is not politically correct to allow the launch of a space probe containing plutonium-238, no matter how small an amount.

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Vic
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Re: Future Past

> too often tied solely to either making more money or destroying something

You say that as if those goals were different...

Vic.

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makes it tricky to get good data back from the old fellow

old girl, surely?

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Bronze badge

Re: makes it tricky to get good data back from the old fellow

Eh, just an update on this. I decided to get a second opinion on whether vehicles should be male or female. I asked the wisest guy I know---my karate instructor. I asked him if my car was male or female. Definitely female, he said. Why? "Because each Nissan, she go!"

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Boffin

Re: makes it tricky to get good data back from the old fellow

Ah but can you consider the Voyagers vehicles? They have no passengers, so they're more correctly classified as probes. And which gender is responsible for the majority of probing that goes on?

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Joke

Re: makes it tricky to get good data back from the old fellow

The gender of the probes is a really great question!

At first I thought male for sure because you never see female hermits and females aren't nearly as likely to just wander off to see what's over 'there'. Then I realized it had been talking non-stop for 36 years so I had to go with female.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: makes it tricky to get good data back from the old fellow

>"...because you never see female hermits..."

Uh... ain't that somewhat self-fulfilling? Hermits being, er... hermits, and all?

She probably thinks she's been quietly chattering to a couple of dozen space cats for the last 36 years and doesn't even know we're listening.

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Vic
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Re: makes it tricky to get good data back from the old fellow

> Ah but can you consider the Voyagers vehicles?

Yes.

> They have no passengers

Doesn't matter. They carry stuff. That's what "vehicle" means - from the latin verb veho.

Vic.

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Pint

just...

this...

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Re: just...

I wondered what you were referring to based on that comment until I saw the beer icon. It reminded me of a translation of a Samuel Beckett poem. It's not anywhere near as smooth as the original French but it still seems oddly apropos:

just think if all this

one day all this

one fine day

just think

if one day

one fine day

all this

stopped

just think

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Bronze badge

Roll on...

Voyager plays among the stars forever more. Hopefully we'll meet again some sunny day.

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Re: Roll on...

Yes!

...which sun?

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Re: Roll on...

Don't know where,don't know when, / But I know we'll meet again, some sunny day.

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Go

Re: Roll on...

If Gene Roddenberry has anything to say, It'll be back in 250 years or so, looking for it's creator. I guess Voyager 2 will come back looking for whales....

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FFFFf….

..uckin' A!!!!

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Pint

Boys are back...

According to one report I saw they got one of the old team, in his 70s, back in from retirement to help reconfigure an on board tape system to get the extra data. Here's to the team!

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Joke

Well, the 'fellow' is way past its bedtime...

What? It's been out there for thirty-something years? AND it's not saying much anymore?

Well, it'd better come back soon or else Daddy will have to go out and bring the 'fellow' back.

And there'll be no dessert after supper...

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She goes, she goes,

...she just goes!

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Coat

Not impressed...

wake me up when it passes the Oort Cloud... Oh wait! I'll be long gone by then! :(

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