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NASA's Voyager 2 reaches edge of solar system 41 years after launch
NASA Voyager 2 exited the heliosphere after four decades of launch.
NASA's Voyager 2 has finally made it to the edge of our solar system, making it only the second spacecraft to achieve the feat. It created history after it getting out of the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun, NASA said. It took the spacecraft 41 years to reach the edge of the solar system.
Its sibling, Voyager 1 was the first to cross the boundary back in 2012, but the Voyager 2 packs an instrument that will observe the nature of this gateway into interstellar space like never before.
According to NASA, the Voyager 2 is around 18 billion kilometers away from our planet. While these probes have exited the heliosphere, they are yet to bid goodbye to the solar system, which won't happen anytime soon.
Moving at a speed of light, the information sent from Voyager 2 to the mission operators takes about 16.5 hours to reach Earth. This gives us an idea of how far the spacecraft is from our planet, as it takes only eight minutes for the light to reach Earth from the Sun.
"Working on Voyager makes me feel like an explorer because everything we're seeing is new," said John Richardson, principal investigator for the PLS instrument.
"Even though Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause in 2012, it did so at a different place and a different time, and without the PLS data. So we're still seeing things that no one has seen before," said Richardson.
Additionally, Voyager's science team have received compelling evidence from three onboard instruments - the cosmic ray subsystem, the low energy charged particle instrument and the magnetometer which are indicating that the spacecraft has passed the heliopause.
"There is still a lot to learn about the region of interstellar space immediately beyond the heliopause," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist. Combines, both Voyagers offer a detailed information about how the heliosphere interacts with the constant interstellar wind flowing from beyond.
Besides, the space agency is also prepping up for an additional mission - the upcoming Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP), due to launch in 2024. The new mission will be an extended research on Voyager's observations.