Outside our star?

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NASA_Heliosphere_Mod.jpgThe Voyagers have been racing out of the solar system for 30 years.

In about 10 years, one of the two Voyagers will enter the outer edge of our sun.

Yet it will take 40,000 years before they reach interstellar space, our first journey into neighboring stars.

[larger pic after click]

“They’re a pair of old fridges out there…”, weighing about a ton and travelling about 40,000 miles per hour.

Between them, Voyager 1 and 2 explored all the giant planets of our outer solar system, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune; 48 of their moons; and the unique system of rings and magnetic fields…

Voyager information is captured from an extremely weak signal. The sensitivity of the tracking antenna around the world is truly amazing. A watch operates at a power level 20 billion times greater.

While whipping around Jupiter, each Voyager used the enormous gravity field as a slingshot, slowing Jupiter by one foot over the next trillion years.

Accuracy of the navigation is equivalent to a 2300 mile golf putt.
Near Neptune, Voyager hit a 62 mile target after travelling over 4 billion miles.

Both Voyager spacecraft carry a greeting to any form of life, should that be encountered anywhere among one hundred billion stars in our own galaxy, and …

Heliosphere shows bullet shape in galaxyUpdate:
Voyager 1 has passed through the outer bubble of solar wind is now exploring a transition region known as the heliosheath. Voyager 2 has yet to pass through the solar wind termination zone.

Voyager reveals our heliosphere is bullet shaped and we are travelling in a different direction to the rest of the Milky Way.

The part of the interstellar magnetic field that comes closest to our system is not parallel to the spiraling arms of the galaxy. [report at Australia’s ABC]

The local interstellar medium is built up from material released from the stars of our galaxy. IBEX, wiki, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer is a NASA satellite that will make the first map of the boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space. It is part of NASA’s Small Explorer program. The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission is scheduled to be launched in June 2008.