The twins are the only two spacecraft ever to venture so far from home.
It's trailing twin Voyager 1, which reached interstellar space in 2012 and is now 13 billion miles from Earth. Originally built to last five years they both lasted almost eight times that and during those four decades transformed human understanding of the solar system. As the plutonium power sources aboard the two probes decay, they each lose 4 watts of power each year. Like Voyager 1, it carries a golden record as a message to anyone who might come across it in the future.
The probe was launched back in 1977 and has gone way beyond its original mission, but it's just getting started studying a region we don't know much about. One AU is the distance from the Sun to Earth.
Voyager 2 Enters Interstellar Space
A NASA illustration of the Voyager spacecraft.
The energy streaming from our own Sun is literally like a wave around the solar system, Glen Nagle of the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex said.
Even though they are out of the sun's bubble, the Voyagers are still technically in our solar system, NASA said.
The signature of the heliopause crossing from Voyager 2 is not quite the same as Voyager 1, Stone noted. At that point, Ross 248 will be the closest star to our sun, briefly eclipsing the Alpha Centauri system's claim to fame as its path through the galaxy brings it just 3.02 light-years away.
NASA says it will take about 300 years for Voyager 2 to reach the inner edge of the Oort Cloud, and possibly 30,000 years to fly beyond it. Voyager 1 is further and faster still, at 22b km and 61,000km/h. But it hasn't left the Solar System, according to the release-it has yet to enter the hypothetical Oort cloud of objects still influenced by the Sun's gravity. "One kind of feels like a lucky fluke", says Justin Kasper, a scientist involved in the Voyager missions from the University of MI in Ann Arbor. Voyager 1 launched a few weeks later on September 5th. It rendezvoused with Jupiter and Saturn in 1979 and 1980, returning some spectacular views of volcanoes erupting on the Jovian moon Io, then continued outward. They were able to perform not only this task, but also research and other distant planets of the Solar system. Most researchers assume it's in interstellar space by now, but it did not have a functioning PLS onboard as it exited the heliosphere. Since the spacecraft could last billions of years, these circular time capsules could one day be the only traces of human civilization. In an historic feat for the mission, Voyager 2's plasma instrument, developed at MIT in the 1970s, is set to make the first direct measurements of the interstellar plasma.
USA says March 1 'hard deadline' for trade deal with China
China is fully confident that it can reach a trade deal with the US within the 90 days set for talks, Gao said. It also would begin buying products from U.S. farmers "immediately".