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March 23, 2018

A view from the Sun: #7 Outer reaches

voyager1traj

Voyager 1 is far out, beyond the outer skin of the solar system’s plasma bubble, truly having flown the solar nest, and is now a fledgeling child of the stars. Its ability to point its communication signal toward Earth is going to last longer than expected by a few years, because its deteriorating aiming thrusters are going to get some relief from old maneuvering thrusters, unused for thirty seven years. The Voyager team did an archeological dig into the ancient assembly language that Voyager speaks, and figured out a way to reactivate the dormant thrusters.

• Voyager 1 Fires Up Thrusters After 37 Years 

Voyager 1’s forty-year trajectory can be followed in the video, which notably shows its gravity slingshot maneuvers at Jupiter and Saturn, its passage through the termination shock where the solar plasma wind slows down, then through the heliosheath area where the solar wind interacts increasingly with the interstellar medium, and finally Voyager 1’s penetration through the heliopause, the solar system’s epidermis.

• Voyager 1 forty-year trajectory video

A constantly updating mission status chart shows current travel distances and basic data from Voyagers one and two:

• Current mission status

For a few more years we will be able to hear Voyager 1’s reports from beyond the outer limits of our home space, the heliosphere.

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