The Voyager 2 probe is continuing its incredible journey. A journey started back in 1977, on August 20th, from Cape Canaveral. Voyager 2 has visited the program as Jupiter and Saturn, therefore, using a rare planetary alignment, it is directed towards Uranus and Neptune, giving scientists the most accurate data that today still have on the two gaseous giants.
The Voyager 2 is the fourth out of five probes to have reached the escape speed needed to leave our solar system and is traveling at a speed of over 15,000 km/s towards a route that will take it 1.7 light-years from the star Ross 248 in about 40,000 years.
Currently, the probe is located about 118 UA from the Sun, equal to 17.7 billion km, inside the heliosphere. The latter is a bubble generated by the solar wind that rejects the cosmic rays and the interstellar medium that surrounds the solar system.
The Cosmic Ray Subsystem instrument on-board the probe has detected a 5% increase in cosmic ray level in recent weeks, and a similar increase was recorded by the Low-Energy Charged Particle instrument. Similar values were detected by the twin probe Voyager 1 in the period prior to entry into the heliopause.
The heliopause is the outer edge of the heliosphere and is a region dominated by solar wind and magnetic fields. Inside it contains a further boundary called termination shock, at which the particle speed of the supersonic solar wind slows down and becomes subsonic.
Outside the heliopause there is interstellar space. When the probe comes out of the heliopause, it will become the second object built by man to leave our solar system.
If you take a moment to think about it, it’s really exciting. The two Voyager probes are our ambassadors, a part of us that is heading into the immensity of the Universe. And even when electrical power ends and the probes go out, they will continue to navigate deep space for thousands of light years… Bringing the evidence of our existence to other stars.