Voyager Probes Spot Previously Unknown Phenomenon in Deep Space

Artistic conception of a Voyager spacecraft.

Artistic conception of a Voyager spacecraft.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Voyager spacecraft may be billions of miles away and over 40 years old, but they’re still making significant discoveries, as new research reveals.

A paper published today in the Astronomical Journal describes an entirely new form of electron burst, a discovery made possible by the intrepid Voyager probes. These bursts are happening in the interstellar medium, a region of space in which the density of matter is achingly thin. As the new paper points out, something funky is happening to cosmic ray electrons that are making their way through this remote area: They’re being reflected and boosted to extreme speeds by advancing shock waves produced by the Sun.

By itself, this process, in which shock waves push particles, is nothing new. What is new, however, is that these bursts of electrons are appearing far ahead of the advancing

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Voyager 1 and 2 detect new kind of solar electron burst

Dec. 3 (UPI) — Data collected by the Voyager spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, has revealed a new type of solar electron burst — the satellites’ instruments detected speeding cosmic ray electrons accelerated by shock waves produced by solar eruptions.

The phenomenon was described Thursday in the Astrophysical Journal by a team of physicists led by the University of Iowa.

The Voyager spacecraft were launched in 1977. In 2012, Voyager 1 left the heliosphere and entered interstellar space. Its younger sibling, Voyager 2, escaped the solar system in 2018.

The two probes are now 14 billion miles from the sun, farther than any human-built objects.

While traveling through interstellar space, the two craft observed electrons accelerating along magnetic field lines, some moving 670 times faster than the shock waves that initially triggered their acceleration.

The cosmic burst events were followed by plasma wave oscillations, detected by the same instruments several

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Voyager spacecraft detect new type of solar electron burst

Voyager spacecraft detect new type of solar electron burst
The Voyager spacecraft continue to make discoveries even as they travel through interstellar space. In a new study, University of Iowa physicists report on the Voyagers’ detection of cosmic ray electrons associated with eruptions from the sun–more than 14 billion miles away. Credit: NASA/JPL

More than 40 years since they launched, the Voyager spacecraft are still making discoveries.

In a new study, a team of physicists led by the University of Iowa report the first detection of bursts of cosmic ray electrons accelerated by shock waves originating from major eruptions on the sun. The detection, made by instruments onboard both the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft, occurred as the Voyagers continue their journey outward through interstellar space, thus making them the first craft to record this unique physics in the realm between stars.

These newly detected electron bursts are like an advanced guard accelerated along magnetic field lines in

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NASA Finally Contacts Voyager 2 After Unprecedented Seven-Month Silence

In the history of spaceflight, only five spacecraft ever launched by humanity possess enough energy to leave the gravitational pull of our Solar System. While thousands upon thousands of objects have been launched into space, overcoming the gravitational pull of planet Earth, the Sun is more than 300,000 times as massive as our home planet, and is far more difficult to escape from. A combination of fast launch speeds and gravitational assists from other planets were required to leave our Solar System, with only Pioneer 10 and 11, Voyager 1 and 2, and New Horizons attaining “escape velocity” from our

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NASA Voyager 2 is receiving commands from Earth again

After a seven-month hiatus without being able to command Voyager 2, NASA is now able to communicate new directions and procedures to the craft, the agency announced.

The Voyager 2 space probe, launched in August 1977, has been traveling outward for more than 43 years visiting Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Repairs and upgrades by the team at NASA have been underway since mid-March at Deep Space Station 43 in Canberra, Australia. That station is the only antenna in the world capable of communicating with the probe. That’s due to Voyager 2’s position in deep space, the antenna’s location in the Southern Hemisphere and the fact that the antenna can interface with the probe’s 1970s technology.

Operators were making needed repairs to its dish, which measures 70 meters, or 230 feet across. One of its two radio transmitters hadn’t been upgraded in 47 years.

Mission operators on Thursday night sent

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NASA contacts Voyager 2 probe for the first time since March

NASA just made contact with Voyager 2 for the first time since March thanks to a key technology upgrade. The agency has revealed that it sent commands to the probe on October 29th using the recently upgraded Deep Space Station 43 dish in Canberra, Australia. The instructions were part of a test for new hardware, including a radio transmitter that hadn’t been replaced in 47 years — before Voyager 2 even launched.

The mission team received status updates and scientific data from Voyager in the intervening months, but couldn’t reach out.

DSS43 is part of a larger Deep Space Network that ensures all spacecraft beyond the Moon can get in touch as long as there’s a line of sight to Earth. This dish is the only one that can communicate with Voyager 2, however. The craft is so far away (11.6 billion miles) that Northern Hemisphere antennas can’t get in

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NASA’s Voyager 2 probe receives first commands since March, sends back a hello


The Voyager 2 probe is some 11.6 billion miles from home but it’s still performing its job admirably.


The Voyager 2 probe, one of NASA’s most well-traveled spacecraft, has been unable to communicate with Earth for the past eight months. Voyager 2 has been wandering alone at the edge of interstellar space, gathering data some 11.6 billion miles from Earth and sending it back to us. 

But we haven’t been able to pick up the phone and call back.

The only radio antenna that can communicate with the probe, Deep Space Station 43 (DSS43) in Australia, has been offline while NASA completes a series of hardware upgrades. Some of the transmitters on DSS43 haven’t been replaced for over 47 years, according to NASA. To test new hardware, the dish pinged Voyager 2 on

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