On Friday the 13th it was announced that the Nasa space probe Voyager One made history as the first ever spacecraft to move into interstellar space. But Voyager One also chalked up another historical event as it left our solar system. It captured two “space shrieks” on its on-board instruments that were transmitted back to our planet. We have included the video of the “shrieks” below.
As the spacecraft entered interstellar space, becoming the first manmade object to do so, the 36 year-old craft found the noise. Described variously as a howl or a shriek and said to be creepy and “wraithlike,” it took 17 hours to be transmitted back to Earth.
NASA made the announcement that our probe had “left the solar bubble” last week and that the sounds picked up by Voyager were proof that the craft had left our solar system. According to NASA, the sounds are actually plasma waves. These waves cannot be heard in space but the sound frequencies are in a range that can be distinguished by human ears.
The space shriek captured by the NASA probe replicated the sound as captured or “heard” by the probe. The antennas on Voyager One amplified the sound and played it through a speaker. These two “shrieks” signalled to scientists that the craft had entered the ionized gases in the spaces between the star system. Which meant that the craft had entered interstellar space.
In the 36 years that Voyager One has been in space, it has moved more than 11.5 billion miles from our sun into interstellar space. NASA stated that the spacecraft actually left our solar system over a year ago in August 2012. But only now do the scientists have substantial evidence to prove that the probe has broken through the plasma bubble that surrounds our planets.
Voyager One chief scientist Ed Stone said that he occurrence was a “milestone” and the beginning of a “new journey.” The probe can now observe new alien particles and events that have never been seen in this unexplored area of the cosmos and transmit its findings back to Earth.
The probe began its journey back in 1977 along with it’s twin spacecraft the Voyager Two. Voyager One has a gold-plated disc which is inscribed with various “multicultural” greetings, songs and pictures in the event of the probe contacting intelligent life.
Voyager Two, which is roughly two to three years behind its twin, is expected to also breach our solar system in three years time. It will be interesting to see if that probe picks up the same sounds.
Although Voyager Two was launched before Voyager One, Two took off on August 20, 1977 and One on September 5, 1977, Voyager One used Saturn to take a gravitational slingshot to accelerate around Pluto. Two, however took the “scenic route” via Uranus and Neptune.
NASA’s Ed Stone explained that the space agency determined that Voyager One had left our solar system based on the information relayed from the probe’s plasma wave apparatus. From his base at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena he said that the man-made probe, launched over 36 years ago, was moving in “uncharted waters” in a never-before traversed area of the cosmos.
Stone also revealed that NASA can now answer the age old question of “Are we there yet?” According to the mission chief, “Yes we are.”
It took the space agency time to study the data relayed by Voyager One as it passed through the plasma bubble. The strange noises captured by Voyager One would not have been heard by NASA if not for a solar eruption from our sun that sent a “solar wind” right at the small probe.
According to NASA the noise that was captured, the “Space shriek” relayed back to Earth, was the probe passing through the outer layer of the heliosphere and encountering the dense plasma over interstellar space. Voyager One will continue to transmit until the year 2020 and both One and Two are expected to deplete their nuclear fuel and power down around 2025. You can hear the “space shrieks” in the video below. What do you think? Creepy or exciting?
By Michael Smith