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 From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>