What’s next for the Voyager twins?


Paige Schneider, Staff Reporter

NASA’s deep space probe, Voyager 2, has been in space for nearly 41 years, making it the oldest probe in space. Voyager 1, its twin, comes in at a close second, as it was launched just 16 days after the first. Both of the probes have traveled nearly 13 billion miles from earth, and they continue to travel through interstellar space today.They don’t plan on stopping their exploration anytime soon, either. NASA wishes to squeeze 50 years of research out of this machine, and it looks like they just might do it. Although the probe is facing a few difficulties, like a gradual loss of heat and power. The probe is currently operating in temperatures of as low as 6.5 degrees Fahrenheit. For each year that passes, the probe can produce 4 less watts of energy. Considering these factors, NASA believes that they will be able to get anywhere from five to ten years out of the probe. In order to make the probe last longer, most of the probes instruments will have to be turned off in order for it to send back any information at all.

The twin space probes are the first NASA has ever sent to the heliopause. The heliopause is the boundary of the heliosphere, which is the bubble-like region of space that encompasses the solar system. Voyager 2 is the only probe that has been able to study Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune up close. On Top of this, it’s the only man-made probe that has ever passed Uranus or Neptune. It’s one of the main reasons why we know what we do about space today.

The Voyager probes hope to accomplish many things in the future. NASA scientists believe that, once the probes have crossed the heliopause, we will be able to learn about the interstellar winds outside of the heliosphere and about the local bubble surrounding it. The information that the Voyager picks up might also shape how we understand exoplanets.

Even though the Voyagers instruments won’t last forever, they will continue to travel across our universe. Around 300 years in the future, the twins will reach the inside of the Oort cloud, the sphere of comets surrounding our solar system. It will take the probes somewhere near 30 thousand years to cross this ‘cloud’ and finally leave our solar system.