Voyager Searches for The Answer Blowing in The Wind

What direction does the flow of charged particles from the Sun as it approaches the edge of the Solar System? Scientists know that, as Bob Dylan said, "Answer Blowin ‘in the Wind" (in Spanish, "the answer is blowing in the wind.") Just get the Voyager one spacecraft at NASA is located in the correct orientation for them.

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To allow the instrument of Low Energy Charged Particles of Voyager 1 data obtained, the spacecraft made a move on 7 March that it had not been done in 21 years, except in a preparation test last month.

At 9:10 am PST, the spacecraft farther from humanity turned 70 degrees in a counter-clockwise as seen from Earth, from its normal orientation and held the position through the rotation of gyroscopes for 2 hours and 33 minutes. The last time one of the two Voyager spacecraft turned and stopped in an orientation controlled by the gyro was the Feb. 14, 1990, when Voyager 1 took a family photo of tiny pearls scattered like planets around our sun.

“Although Voyager 1 has been traveling through the Solar System for 33 years, continues to be a skillful gymnast to do tricks that we have not asked to do in 21 years,” said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager at the Laboratory Jet Propulsion (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “He executed the maneuver without problems, and hope to do a few more times to allow scientists to gather the data they need.”

The two Voyager spacecraft are journeying through a turbulent region known as the heliosheath. The heliosheath is the exterior structure of a bubble around our solar system created by the solar wind, a stream of ions that ‘blow’ in radially outward from the Sun, more than a million miles per hour. The wind should turn as it approaches the outer edge of the bubble, where it meets the interstellar wind, which orign in the region between the stars and is beaten by our solar bubble.

In June 2010, when Voyager 1 was about 17,000 million miles away from the Sun, from the instrument of Low Energy Charged Particles started to show that the solar wind moves outward was zero. This measure (zero) has continued since then. The Voyager science team does not believe the wind is gone in that area. Probablement only turned to one side. But what goes up, down or to one side?

“Because the solar wind direction has changed and its radial velocity dropped to zero, we have to change the direction of Voyager 1 so that the instrument of Low Energy Charged Particles can act as a kind of weathervane to see which direction Now the wind blows, “said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. “Knowing the strength and direction of wind is crucial to understanding how our solar bubble and estimate how far away from the edge of interstellar space.”

Voyager’s engineers conducted a test of rotation and orientation on February 2 for two hours and 15 minutes. When the data from Voyager 1 was received on Earth some 16 hours later, the mission team verified that the test was successful and that the spacecraft had no problems to reorient itself and turn to your guide star, Alpha Centauri.

The scientific team of the instrument of Low Energy Charged Particles confirmed that the spacecraft had achieved the kind of information they needed, and mission planners Voyager 1 gave the green light for more money and more time to maintain this orientation. There will be five maneuvers during the coming days, with the orientation longer than 3 hours and 50 minutes. The Voyager team plans to run a series of weekly money for this purpose every three months.

The successful maneuver March 7 was received at JPL at 1:21 am PST March 8. But it will take some months for scientists to analyze the data.

“We do everything possible to ensure that scientists have exactly the kind of data they need, since only the Voyager spacecraft remains active in this exotic region of space,” said Jefferson Hall, director of mission operations at JPL Voyager . “We are pleased to see that Voyager still has the ability to obtain scientific data only in an area that is not likely to be covered by other spacecraft for decades.”

Voyager 2 was launched on August 20, 1977. Voyager 1 was launched on September 5, 1977. On 7 March, Voyager 1 was at 17,400 million miles away from the Sun Voyager 2 was 14,200 million miles from the sun, in a different trajectory.

The solar wind moves away from the sun has not yet dropped to zero where Voyager 2 is exploring, but this may happen when the spacecraft approaches the edge of the bubble in the following years

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