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Interstellar probe could be successor to the Voyager missions

14 Nov 2021, 11:00 UTC
Interstellar probe could be successor to the Voyager missions
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An artist image depicting the trajectory of a possible interstellar probe. Credit: JHUAPL
With Voyagers 1 and 2 set to run out of power in approximately a decade, NASA is considering a follow up interstellar probe that could last 50 to 100 years.
The space agency asked a team of scientists and engineers at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) to explore a possible $1.5 billion mission to study the interstellar medium or region of space between the Sun and the closest nearby stars. Such a mission would require the involvement of multiple generations of scientists and engineers.
A report by the JHUAPL group complete with spacecraft design is expected to be released in several weeks.
Launched in 1977, both Voyagers remain active in spite of the fact that they were designed to operate for five years. Voyager 1 is now 14 billion miles from Earth while Voyager 2 is more than 11 billion miles away.
While the twin probes were created to study the solar system’s gas and ice giant planets, both are now sending back data on the interstellar medium. However, the plutonium that powers both is running low, and mission scientists are already considering which ...

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