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The Loyal Engineers Steering NASA’s Voyager Probes Across the Universe

Posted on August 4th, 2017 at 23:48 by John Sinteur in category: News -- Write a comment


Today the Voyagers are 10 billion and 13 billion miles away, the farthest man-made objects from Earth. The 40th anniversary of their launch will be celebrated next month. We tend to think of space as vacant, but it is actually matter, created, as everything in the universe is, by the explosions of ancient stars. Within our planetary neighborhood, this ‘‘space’’ is made up of different particles than the space outside is, because of supersonic wind that blows out from the surface of our sun at a million miles per hour. The wind generates a bubble around our solar system called the heliosphere. Five years ago, Voyager 1 reached the boundary where the heliosphere gives way to interstellar space, a region as novel to us — and potentially relevant — as the Pacific was to Europeans 500 years ago. The data the probes are collecting are challenging fundamental physics and will provide clues to the biggest of questions: Why did our sun give birth to life only here? Where else, within our solar system or others, are we most likely to find evidence that we are not alone?

The mission quite possibly represents the end of an era of space exploration in which the main goal is observation rather than commercialization. In internal memos, Trump-administration advisers have referred to NASA’s traditional contractors as ‘‘Old Space’’ and proposed refocusing its budget on supporting the growth of the private ‘‘New Space’’ industry, Politico reported in February. ‘‘Economic development of space’’ will begin in near-Earth orbit and on the moon, according to the president’s transition team, with ‘‘private lunar landers staking out de facto ‘property rights’ for Americans on the moon, by 2020.’’

Here’s a page with the status of the Deep Space Network. https://eyes.nasa.gov/dsn/dsn.html For instance, right now, Voyager 2 is communicating with the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in Australia. The signal that they’re receiving from Voyager 2, 17.10 billion km away, is -152.67 dBm (5.41 x 10^-22 kW) at 8.42 GHz for a grand total of 159 bits per second.

159 bits per second of data are being sent from outside the sun’s magnetic influence, from interstellar space. LTE breaks at -120dBm.

Bask in how awesome that is.

Voyager 1 is 13 billion miles away and we’re still communicating. At about 24 Watt. Most light bulbs put out more energy than that…
And Trump and his cronies just care about how to extract money from lunar property rights. They truly are sub-human.
  1. Commercial value of the Moon: less than Earth’s. It’s the same material, just harder to get. Maybe he can make a Trump Tower on the moon. I look forward to his visit there.

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