Tag Archives: Heliosphere

Five space probes leaving the solar system (for now)

As of 2019, only five space probes are leaving the solar system: Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2 and New Horizons. The Voyagers already left the solar system and entered the interstellar space (Voyager 1 on August 25, 2012, and Voyager 2 on November 5, 2018. The others also will leave the heliosphere Notes 1 and reach the interstellar space in a few years.

All of these spacecraft are launched by NASA.

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Watch: How far can Voyager 1 go before we lose contact?

Launched by NASA on September 5, 1977, to study the outer solar system, the Voyager 1 is the furthest human-made object from Earth. As of January 10, 2019, the space probe is more than 13,491,481,615 miles (21,712,434,988 km) away from our home planet. It is also moving away at a speed of 38,026.77 mph (61,198.15 km/h) relative to the Sun. But, thanks to NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) Notes 1, we can still communicate with it (also with its sister, Voyager 2). But how far can Voyager 1 go before we lose communication?

The video published by the Primal Space channel below looks at how we communicate with Voyager and when it will eventually stop receiving our signals.

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Leaving Solar System at the Speed Of Light

Our Solar system is big, and vast, despite it is really small compared to our galaxy, not to mention the complete universe. To put this into a perspective, you can think yourself as a photon emitted by the Sun. It takes about 8 minutes to reach the Earth after a photon has been emitted from the Sun’s surface. And it takes 5 hours to get out to Pluto from the Earth. The edge of the Solar System is far beyond the orbit of Pluto.

But, where’s the edge of the Solar System? Well, It’s complicated. Informally, the term “solar system” is often used to mean the space out to the last planet – Neptune. Some scientists think that the solar system goes out to the Oort Cloud, the source of the comets. The inner edge of the main part of the Oort Cloud could be as close as 1,000 AU (Astronomical Unit, the distance between the Earth and the Sun, which is around 93 million miles or 150 million kilometers) from our sun. The outer edge is estimated to be around 100,000 AU.

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