Voyager Spacecraft Will Soon Enter Interstellar Space

Article written: 28 Apr , 2011
Updated: 25 Mar , 2012

After 33 years, NASA’s twin Voyager spacecraft are still actively working – gathering information, communicating with Earth, (and Tweeting!), and they are about to go where no space probe has gone before: into interstellar space. Because of the unfamiliar nature of the heliosphere, and especially its outermost layer, the heliosheath, it is not known exactly when the Voyagers will actually reach the “great beyond.”

“The heliosheath is 3 to 4 billion miles (4.8 to 6 billion km) in thickness,” said Voyager Project Scientist, Ed Stone. “That means we’ll be out within five years or so.” The V’ger’s Plutonium 238 heat source will keep the critical subsystems running through at least 2020, but after that, Stone says, “Voyager will become our silent ambassador to the stars.”

This video features highlights of the Voyager journeys to the outer planets and the discoveries they have made, and shows where they are now and where they are headed.

More info on the Voyagers, and here, too.

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13 Responses

  1. sukhoi4700 says

    My salute to the members of voyager mission…..

  2. Our silent ambassador to the stars…

  3. tacitus says

    ust as soon as we fire up that warp drive.

    Ay, there’s the rub.

  4. Sili says

    I hope I’ll live to see orbiters at Uranus and Neptune.

  5. Andrew James says

    Great. When will the Vulcans arrive? 😉

    • postman1 says

      Just as soon as we fire up that warp drive. Live long and prosper.

    • Carbon Creek. 1957. Velcro.

    • Moonshine says

      Why not the Romulans. They have the Romulan Ale-BEER !
      And please not the Klingons. We would be up too our knee’s in leftover klingon worm food. You know what I mean…
      And if I see one more Big Eye,snagle tooth,twerp,in a little green suit trying too sell me a vacuum cleaner or a Ion engine with NO warrenty, I’m pulling out my pea shooter.
      Go Voyager’s !
      I knew you when you launched and you were made right in the good ol USA..
      Not bad what a Slide ruller and a primitive computer can do,with dedicated Scientist and R&D….

  6. Question says

    the team is so much older now. it’s touching to see and makes me feel nostalgic. things have changed a great deal in the field since then, partially thanks to the work of these dedicated individuals and others like them.

  7. Uncle Fred says

    Besides the Apollo missions, The Voyagers are my favorite space adventure. Hubble comes third.

  8. Uncle Fred says

    I wonder what the approximate likelyhood of another species encountering one of our soon-to-be interstellar probes. If so, how much could they learn from one of these crafts?

    My guess is that given the fact none of our current missions have enough power to last more than a few decades, they will be virtually indecernable from the interstellar medium. Given the great distances involved, the likelihood that spare faring civilizations are fleeting occurrences in time, the chances of anything actually finding any of these relics are zero.

    Even if a Voyager was picked up in a few million years, the spacecraft and it’s record will probably be so damaged from radiation and micro interstellar collisions that not much in the way of informational exchange will occur.

  9. ND says

    I want to see an ion drive based probe that’s dedicated to reaching and overtaking the voyagers. A probe that’s not only dedicated to measuring the sun’s influence in the farthest edges of the solar system and into interstellar space, but also become the fastest probe. According to wikipedia, V1 is travelling at 17 km/s. Can we reach 100? 200?

    • FleetFoot says

      In theory (!), a solar sail can exceed 1000km/s. There’s a lot of engineering between here and there though.

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