Image Credits: (Top) NASA / JPL-Caltech
(Bottom) NRAO/AUI/NSF

Voyager has been doing some cool stuff since it crossed into interstellar space in August. NASA and JLP confirmed the start of Voyager 1’s interstellar journey earlier this week, which, thus far, hasn’t happened before (so, it seems like Voyager *really* has left the solar system).

 

The first image I have for you is Voyager as seen from Earth. That little blue dot is none other than the “little probe that could,” located some 18.5- billion kilometers (11.5-billion miles) away from the pale blue dot (as of Feb. 21, 2013 when this image was taken). That little blue smudge is Voyager’s radio signal and required the use of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), which is a 8,000 km (5,000 mi) wide telescope that works using astronomical interferometry. This process links telescopes together so they act as one, much larger, much more powerful, and much more sensitive telescope so astronomers can see more detail.

 

Astronomers at the VLBA used Voyager’s radio signal as a way to test the sensitivity of their equipment. Here, the array must detect Voyager’s radio signal, which is transmitting at 22 watts (about the same amount of power used to light the bulb in your refrigerator) – that’s a very weak target.

 

Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Needless to say, the VLBA mission is a success and they have managed to look out at the most distant manmade object ever launched from our corner in the cosmos.

 

Voyager was kind enough to send back a gift, the very first recording of the sounds “heard” in interstellar space. With the aid of its plasma wave instrument, and a little conversion, scientists have converted Voyager’s readings to audible sounds (similar to way Voyager captured the sounds of the planets for us to listen too).

 

Here, you will listen to ‘sounds’ caused by the vibrations of ionized gas beyond the edge of the solar system.


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