Voyager 2 has entered the interstellar space

science SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY
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NASA announced that the legendary exploration spacecraft had left a protective bubble produced by the sun's wind and energy, called the heliosphere, and is now hurtling through interstellar space. 

Voyager 2 is the second spacecraft to ever reach the outer limits of the solar system and enter into the interstellar wilderness. Voyager 2's counterpart, Voyager 1, previously entered the stars in 2012. 

Technically, however, Voyager 2 is still in the distant realms of the solar system. There are large icy objects out here, collectively known as the Oort Cloud, that are still under the gravitational influence of the sun. 

Both Voyager crafts, then, aren't expected to leave the solar system anytime soon. NASA suspects it will take some 30,000 years for the Voyagers to travel beyond the Oort Cloud, and enter farther into uncharted territory. 

Out beyond the heliopause, however, the Voyager craft can give NASA scientists a better idea of what it's like at the beginnings of interstellar space, and how the sun's particles and energy, or solar wind, interact with the constant flow of particles from deep, interstellar space.

Both Voyagers were intended to explore the solar system for five years, but 41 years later, are still alive and sending messages back to Earth. The spacecraft are powered by slowly-decaying radioactive material, so they're not reliant upon sunlight to stay online. 


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