Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Computer simulation predicts Voyager 2 will reach major milestone in space in late 2007–early 2008

30.11.2007
According to UC Riverside physicist's model, spacecraft will cross 'termination shock' one more time, in mid-2008

Using a computer model simulation, Haruichi Washimi, a physicist at UC Riverside, has predicted when the interplanetary spacecraft Voyager 2 will cross the “termination shock,” the spherical shell around the solar system that marks where the solar wind slows down to subsonic speed.

According to Washimi’s simulations, the spacecraft is set to cross the termination shock in late 2007-early 2008. To make this forecast, Washimi and his colleagues used data from Voyager 2 and performed a global “magneto-hydrodynamic simulation” – a method that allows for precise and quantitative predictions of geomagnetic disturbances caused by solar activities.

Because Voyager 2’s crossing of the shock is expected to be an abrupt and relatively brief event, scientists are working to ensure that the most is made of the opportunity. With an idea of when the spacecraft will cross the shock, they are better able to maximize coverage of the crossing.

Study results appear in the Dec. 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

“Washimi’s model has predicted the location of a boundary that is approximately 90 times farther from the sun than is the Earth, to within a few percent,” said Gary Zank, the director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics and one of the coauthors of the research paper. “This is truly remarkable given the enormous complexity of the physics involved, the temporal and spatial scales involved, and the variability of the solar wind conditions.”

The solar wind – a stream of charged particles ejected by the sun in all directions – travels at supersonic speeds when it leaves the sun, until it eventually encounters the interstellar medium made up of plasma, neutral gas and dust.

At the termination shock, located at 7-8.5 billion miles from the sun, the solar wind is decelerated to less than the speed of sound. The boundary of the termination shock is not fixed, however, but wobbly, fluctuating in both time and distance from the sun, depending on solar activity.

“This is the first time the termination-shock position has been forecast in this way,” said Washimi, the lead author of the research paper and a scientist at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. “After it crosses this boundary, Voyager 2 will be in the outer heliosphere beyond which lies the interstellar medium and galactic space. Our simulations also show that the spacecraft will cross the termination shock again in the middle of 2008. This will happen because of the back and forth movement of the termination-shock boundary. This means Voyager 2 will experience multiple crossings of the termination shock. These crossings will come to an end after the spacecraft escapes into galactic space.”

Voyager 2 was launched Aug. 20, 1977. It visited four planets and their moons in the course of its journey into space. Its sister spacecraft Voyager 1, which was launched Sept. 5, 1977, crossed the termination shock in December 2004 – earlier than Voyager 2 because of a shorter trajectory. Both spacecraft are currently operational, but power sources have degraded and some of the instrumentation no longer works optimally. In the future, the spacecraft will encounter their next milestone in space: the heliopause, which is the boundary where the interstellar medium brings the solar wind to a halt.

Iqbal Pittalwala | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucr.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology
22.08.2017 | Université libre de Bruxelles

nachricht Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form
18.08.2017 | Cornell University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>