back to article Official: Voyager 2 is now an interstellar spacecraft

NASA’s Voyager 2 probe has followed its sibling, Voyager 1, into interstellar space, according to the team managing the veteran spacecraft. Voyager 1 exited the heliosphere – the bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun that surrounds the solar system – back in 2012, although it took the best part of a year …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Science 50 years old

    Still going and still outstanding!

    1. Joe W

      Re: Science 50 years old

      And when I look at my collection of electronic equipment there are not many things that have a similar age. My dad's electric drill and my granddad's record player (well, "compact" stereo, like voyager stuff keeps failing, the core function, for me the turn table, is still good, as is the amp). Both very simple devices. I doubt that any of the stuff I bought will be around in 50 years (or even 20). Except for my Harmann Kardon amp...

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: Science 50 years old

        I doubt that any of the stuff I bought will be around in 50 years (or even 20). Except for my Harmann Kardon amp...

        I still have the stereo I bought back in '92: Pioneer A400 amp, Pioneer PDS901 CD player, and a pair of Mission Cyrus 781 speakers. Still all going strong - the only thing I've had to repair was gluing the lens back into its housing in the CD player. I've gone through numerous other small stereo systems since then, but these components are still going strong after 26 years. (Admittedly I've not taken them for a spin around the solar system - yet...)

        1. Hans 1 Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: Science 50 years old

          "a spin around the solar system" ohh, so they are stationary in space somewhere and earth "flies by" every year, then ?

          1. Def Silver badge

            Re: Science 50 years old

            "a spin around the solar system" ohh, so they are stationary in space somewhere and earth "flies by" every year, then ?

            Well, if they were stationary in space the Earth would never fly by ever again. ;)

            So here's a question for the bored-at-work: If it was possible to remove all gravitational influences on an object on the 1st of January, 1970, and leave that object at rest in space in close proximity to where the Earth was at that time, how far away would it be now?

            1. tfb Silver badge

              Re: Science 50 years old

              Define 'at rest in space' (hint: you can't).

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: Science 50 years old

              Well, consider that according to measured blue shift of the CMB (red shift if you're in Australia), we are moving at at roughly 368 ± 2 km/s relative to the rest of the Universe. That's as close to absolute as we can get at the moment.

              Throw in the motion of "The Local Group", and we're moving at 627 ± 22 km/s relative to the CMB.

              Given that your post was made 1,544,611,672 seconds after your proposed start time (really!), the math(s) becomes fairly easy. (Find out how long it's been, in seconds, with this command in a *nix shell: date +%s. As I type, it's 1,544,633,943 seconds.)

    2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Science 50 years old

      Voyagers 1 and 2 are 42 years old.

      1. Kyle Roberts

        Re: Science 50 years old

        It's no good Ian, according to the well tried scientific "proof by assertion" the Voyagers are now 50 years old!

        1. Joe W

          Re: Science 50 years old

          Hm. The work on the project started earlier - I guess around 50 years since the kickoff of the project sounds about right-ish.

          But yes, the launch was quite less than 50 years ago.

      2. Keith Langmead

        Re: Science 50 years old

        "Voyagers 1 and 2 are 42 years old."

        But there was a technology freeze in 1972, so the tech on them is at least 46 years old.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Science 50 years old

      Just as well they didn't use the npm framework

    4. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Science 50 years old

      My wife bought me a Linn Sondek LP12 in 1974, it is still working well. It became a bit of a Trigger's broom as various bits were upgraded, but the basic chassis is still the same. When I was younger, and even more foolish, we spent serious money adding similar "quality" Linn/Naim HiFi kit to it until the late 1980s - So a thoughtful (but expensive) gift became a very expensive hobby. I had a car accident that meant that I could not drive and enjoy it, so it was sold on - The new owner is about 25 years younger than me and still very pleased with it, so hopefully it will live on.

      My only other bit of long-lived "high tech" kit (for the time) is a 1941 Longines wristwatch from my father which still works well. Nothing that I have acquired since has/will last anything like as long; but to put it in perspective the LP12 was about a month's wages and the watch about a fortnight's.

  2. cbars
    Pint

    It's actually quite emotional to be reminded of these probes. I wasn't even around 50 years ago. Well done humans

    1. DougS Silver badge

      I was around 50 years ago, just barely

      I remember learning about the Voyager 1 & 2 in grade school, and the school had a vinyl replica of the gold record that we passed around. I wonder how many of those were made, and what they'd go for on eBay these days? Might still be sitting on a shelf in a dark corner of a storage room in my old grade school, which is closing next year. If they have a "garage sale" maybe I should go there to see if I can find it :)

      Pretty cool they are both still going, too bad they are going to run out of power within my lifetime (or at least so I hope!) I have a feeling some billionaire will cause a ruckus a century from now by recovering one of them, bringing it back to Earth, and putting it on display in his house.

      Can NASA arrest property rights over them once they are dead, or would it be considered similar to salvaging a shipwreck in international waters?

      1. Chris King Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: I was around 50 years ago, just barely

        If you can't find one of the old replicas, there was a Kickstarter project that produced a vinyl version for the 40th anniversary.

        Check out Ozma Records for more information. I pledged for one and it cost me almost as much to ship it to the UK as I pledged for it.

      2. User McUser

        Re: I was around 50 years ago, just barely

        I have a feeling some billionaire will cause a ruckus a century from now by recovering one of them, bringing it back to Earth, and putting it on display in his house.

        If it makes you feel better it would take a LOT of effort to do so.

        Using chemical rockets would probably be too expensive to even just catch up to either Voyager probe, let alone return to Earth with them.

        They're both currently traveling at more than 15km/s so you'd have to accelerate to a speed faster than that to catch up to one of them, then capture it and change direction to head back to earth. That's a *very* large amount of delta-V which means a tremendous amount of fuel would be needed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I was around 50 years ago, just barely

          @User McUser

          " 'I have a feeling some billionaire will cause a ruckus a century from now by recovering one of them, bringing it back to Earth, and putting it on display in his house.'

          If it makes you feel better it would take a LOT of effort to do so.

          Using chemical rockets would probably be too expensive to even just catch up to either Voyager probe, let alone return to Earth with them."

          I for one have seen the excellent documentary "Star Trek, the Motion Picture", in which it's made clear mankind will reach Voyager using a space drive powered by a matter/anti-matter reaction. Now where did I leave those dilithium crystals?

        2. Bluto Nash
          Pint

          Re: I was around 50 years ago, just barely

          However, when you come right down to it, there are very few problems that a generous infusion of cash WON'T solve. The will (and wherewithal) to APPLY said infusion has always been the issue...

          Icon for all originally involved.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I was around 50 years ago, just barely

        "the school had a vinyl replica of the gold record that we passed around."

        Yup, it's been 50 years since we sent our interplanetary^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hstellar neighbours a mix track, some nudes and directions to our house.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: I was around 50 years ago, just barely

          Yup, it's been 50 years since we sent our interplanetary^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hstellar neighbours a mix track, some nudes and directions to our house.

          Put it like that, it sounds like a teenagers clumsy dating strategy.

          Couple of thousand years, could be an interstellar cop car round to caution the human race for being too young to be distributing nudes of themselves. Worst case, we could find ourselves on a Galactic Register.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: I was around 50 years ago, just barely

            Worst case, we could find ourselves on a Galactic Register.

            You mean 'THE' Galactic Register. I wonder what their icon would be?

            1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

              Re: I was around 50 years ago, just barely

              You mean 'THE' Galactic Register. I wonder what their icon would be?

              A hyper-vulture?

              1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                Re: I was around 50 years ago, just barely

                Klingon Bird of Prey?

      4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        Re: Salvage Rights

        "Can NASA arrest property rights over them once they are dead, or would it be considered similar to salvaging a shipwreck in international waters?"

        No, the girl and the cat in hypersleep whose readings are all in the green will put paid to any salvage rights ;-)

      5. Jay Lenovo Silver badge

        Re: I was around 50 years ago, just barely

        If they wish to salvage, there are 8K+ large junk space objects, just around our own planet currently deemed too costly to retrieve.

    2. Youngone Silver badge

      I wasn't even around 50 years ago.

      I was cbars, and it wasn't that great really. I mean it was OK, but my Mum would hardly let me out of her sight which was a drag, and the tie my Dad wore to work was a huge embarrassment.

      On the other hand Cream were amazing at the time, and the joys of progressive rock were still to come.

  3. Sammy Smalls

    Really quite uplifting.

    After a crappy day with a crappy cold and crappy news. Well, it made me smile.

  4. karlkarl Bronze badge

    I don't imagine your SSH session to one of those things would be any fun. 16+ hours per key press ;)

    1. DougS Silver badge

      ssh -T voyager /bin/sh --login -i

    2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      @karlkarl

      Double up your 16.6 hours: that's just one way. It will take 33 hours before the response from your keypress gets painted on your screen.

      OTOH nothing stops you sending more keystrokes before you see any characters echoed from Voyager. You could type:

      ssh root@voyager<CR>

      without any pauses, but then you'd still have to wait 33 hours to get the password prompt - assuming you didn't make any typing mistakes and your session didn't time out in the meantime.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: @karlkarl

        Double up your 16.6 hours: that's just one way. It will take 33 hours before the response from your keypress gets painted on your screen.

        That's why they developed mosh.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Only one problem.

      ssh didn't exist when the Vs were launched ... and it has never been ported to their custom computers.

      If you turn on local echo, you'll be able to see what you typed, and correct spellinh^Hg mistakes without having to wait for the error message.

  5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alien

    Solexit 2

    Brexit 0

    1. milo5

      Re: Solexit 2

      And not forgetting that Pioneers 10 and 11 may have sneaked out without telling anyone...

      1. MonkeyBob

        Re: Solexit 2

        Judging by this chart Pioneer 10 has just snuck ahead to beat Voyager 2 with Pioneer 11 close behind. New horizons is a distant 5th but catching up fast.

        https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=what+is+the+most+distant+space+craft+from+the+sun%3F

      2. Annihilator
        Unhappy

        Re: Solexit 2

        Yes but poor old Pioneer 10 is destined to be destroyed by a Klingon bird of prey.

    2. arctic_haze Silver badge

      Re: Solexit 2

      [John Cleese voice]

      It's not funny!!!

  6. Kyle Roberts

    50 years

    This makes me feel good, I'm 60 years old - I have been really, really well engineered!

    1. Bluto Nash

      Re: 50 years

      Thank your parents.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: 50 years

        @Bluto, I'm not sure my parents were involved in the engineering cycle, more like the commissioning body.

  7. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Happy

    All the crap we are bombarded with in the news, politics, the economy, terrorism, religion, dwindling privacy, social media and SJWs continuing campaign to silence everyone except themselves.

    Along comes a little story about a little object making a little journey through our corner of the cosmos. It gives this little human a glimmer of hope for our little species when we overcome all the crap from above and dream big.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Happy

      An important message, from not very long after the Voyagers were launched...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTNUm-pIFmQ

    2. Teawain

      Resilience

      Makes me think about about how 'modern' things aren't built to last anymore.

  8. MadonnaC

    Brings this quote to mind...

    Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.

    -- Douglas Adams

    1. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: Brings this quote to mind...

      Yep, space is hugely big all right.

      From the article, I was doing well with the 18bn km ( i can visualise that, yeah) in 40+ years.

      Them, whammo, 300 more years to get to the start of the Ooort Cloud and 30,000 years to get to the other side. Ridiculous, even if it is the proverbial peanuts v the universe.

      You'll be telling me next that even if it could be speeded up and fly indefinitely, that it would never reach the edge of the universe.

      Can you imagine though that it did, peered over the edge and radioed back what it found?

      1. Wincerind

        Re: Brings this quote to mind...

        "peered over the edge"

        I'm guessing that's the next idea for the Flat Earthers... The Flat Universe

      2. Mooseman Bronze badge

        Re: Brings this quote to mind...

        "Can you imagine though that it did, peered over the edge and radioed back what it found?"

        Presumably a turtle.

        1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Brings this quote to mind...

          Presumably a turtle.

          Obviously, but what is the turtles gender? That's apt to be important, I would think.

  9. ap011013

    Pale Blue Dot

    An amazing achievement. It reminded me of the Pale Blue Dot image of Earth taken in the 1990s from Voyager 1 that inspired Carl Sagan's "The Pale Blue Dot" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO5FwsblpT8

  10. TX_SS
    Pint

    Damned workaholics! It is pretty amazing that they are still functioning.

    1. VikiAi Silver badge
      Trollface

      Yes, they are going to give the aliens entirely the wrong impression of humanity!

  11. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Each of these (remarkable) things has now "left the solar system" at least six times now, with each departure corresponding to a NASA budget vote. I presume this is the same.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can you dig out links for those dozen departure announcements - it will make for interesting reading

      1. Spherical Cow

        Don't forget the alt text:

        https://xkcd.com/1189/

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Back under your bridge Troll

  12. jake Silver badge

    Somewhere ...

    ... a little bell just went "ding", and a light lit up. A galactic administrator looked up from whatever it was doing, and thought to itself "That's two ...".

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Somewhere ...

      ...slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us...dunn dunnn derrrrrrr!!!!

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Somewhere ...

        Deespatch var rocket Ajax to breeng back ze body!

  13. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    JPL really knows how to build stuff.

  14. SNAFUology
    Gimp

    Improbability drive

    it was quite improbable one would exit the heliosphere, they both have !!

    Woohoo !!

    We're aliens NOW!

    Galactic anus here we come.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Improbability drive

      It was very probably they were going to exit the heliosphere. It was slightly less probable we'd have the instrumentation data communicated back to us by the still working probes

  15. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Voyager 3 message

    "The last unstable planet in this region has been neutralised. Nothing to see here, phenomenologically speaking. Please move along. Post addenda under the keyword "leopard" in a filing cabinet in your nearest electrically-deficient disused lavatory. Preferably underground."

  16. Winkypop Silver badge
    Happy

    Somehere in interstellar space...

    Whheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  17. Kyle Roberts

    Oort what

    "... the outer edge of the solar system is considered to be the Oort Cloud, ..."

    Should read: "the outer edge.. is considered to be where the Oort Cloud is *thought* to be". You might as well say "that man is as tall as Sasquatch"

    1. dbtx Bronze badge
      Coat

      Re: Oort what

      also...

      "a collection of objects still under the influence of the Sun's gravity"

      What's the lower limit on "influence"? Gravitation is zero at infinity.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: Oort what

        Same as being under the influence of alcohol. You travel around in ever decreasing circles and every so often something happens to cause a spectacular ejection of matter.

      2. tfb Silver badge

        Re: Oort what

        What it actually means is that the objects are gravitationally bound to the Sun, which means their total (gravitational potential + kinetic) energy is negative as measured in the centre of mass frame of the system (and with the convention that gravitational PE is zero at infinity).

        I presume the Voyagers, for instance are not gravitationally bound to the Sun.

  18. Crisp Silver badge
    Go

    Go little robot!

    A real inspiration to robots everywhere.

  19. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Scale

    This makes me feel incredibly poignant. Just thinking about where these two little pieces of cold war era tech are, and where they are going. It really puts the sheer scale of Space into perspective when you realize that they have only just made it to the edge of our solar system, and that beyond that lie another few billion in our Galaxy alone (happy to be corrected) and that they they won't get anywhere near the next object in it. It makes me feel VERY small. Just imagine how cold and quiet it is out there...

    Well done little chaps. Happy trails. .

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Scale

      Voyager 2 could go from London to Sydney in a shade under 18 minutes, and it's been flying how long again?

      Although...saying it like that doesn't make it seem very fast at all :(

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Scale

        Okay, attempt number two: if Voyager 2 could shine a laser pointer on the Sun from London, by the time we would see the red spot (if we could) Voyager would already be in Sydney...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Since that date, the instrument has detected no solar wind flow around the aging probe, making scientists confident that Voyager 2 had indeed left the heliosphere and entered interstellar space."

    One assumes they've checked the solar wind detector isn't broken :-D

    1. cosymart
      Alien

      Testing

      They would need to send a boffin out to do that :-) See icon for contractors details...

  21. Pete4000uk

    After we are gone

    Things like this will be the only thing left to say we were here.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: After we are gone

      Them and a few footsteps on the moon

  22. x 7 Silver badge

    Photos?

    Without pictures it can't be true!

    Where are the photographs?

  23. Adam 1 Silver badge

    Some time 6-7 billion years ago

    God: 14,959,790,000,000 Km ought to be enough for anybody.

  24. Herby Silver badge

    Message just relayed from Voyager...

    SEND MORE CHUCK BERRY.....

    (*SIGH*)

  25. Fabrizio

    "Voyager 2 is currently just over 18 billion kilometres from Earth, with information taking about 16.5 hours to reach the spacecraft."

    Isn't the information reaching Earth instead of the spacecraft?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Information is a two-way street.

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