NASA's Voyager 2 Probe May Soon Enter Interstellar Space

NASA's 41-Year-Old Voyager 2 Probe May Be Nearing Interstellar Space

The image shows the heliosphere that wraps around the Sun, its planets and far beyond. Since Voyager 2 is not yet in the same location as Voyager 1 was as it approached the edge of the solar system, it is possible that Voyager 2 will experience a different exit timeline from the edge of the solar system.

When it comes to space exploration, no one has the Voyager missions beat.

Two of Voyager 2's instruments have measured an increase in the number of high-energy particles called cosmic rays hitting the spacecraft, according to a NASA release. That is more than 118 times the distance from Earth to the Sun or 118 AU. The spacecraft is the second man-made object to enter deep space after Voyager 1. This indicates that the voyager is now nearing the interstellar space, said the U.S. space agency.

Voyager 2 has been traveling in the outermost layer of the heliosphere, which is a massive bubble that is around the sun and planets. It is being closely watched to record the time at which it reaches geologos - limits heliosphere, where solar wind speed drops to nearly zero. It seems that the time has come now for Voyager 2 to do just the same thing as its companion probe did a few years ago - journey into the unknown.

Voyager team members note that the increase in cosmic rays is not a definitive sign that the probe is about to cross the heliopause. Made up of mainly protons, electrons and atomic nuclei, cosmic rays blast through space at almost the speed of light, and are thought to be ejected during powerful supernova explosions.

The official date when Voyager 1 crossed the boundary between the Solar System and space beyond was 25 of August 2012.

And if we're going off of history, the craft could be crossing the threshold any day now.

In May 2012, Voyager 1 experienced an increase in the rate of cosmic rays, must like what its sibling is now encountering.

The six-year gap between each probe's departure is also relevant, according to NASA, because the heliopause moves during the Sun's 11-year activity cycle. This cycle causes variations in solar flares, eruptions and winds, which makes the heliopause expand and contract. As it is believed, cosmic rays are subatomic particles comprising of helium and hydrogen nuclei that zip through space at ultra-high speeds but at a point near the start of the heliopause, these particles bump on a virtual wall and deflect and that is where the heliopause and termination shock meet.

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