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Planets of the Solar System

The eight planets of the solar system with increasing distance from the sun have larger orbits.

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To Boldly Go

To Boldly Go

Credit: Robert Lopez
Source: CK-12 Foundation
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

This blue dot may not seem like much, but it is something incredible. The dot is the radio signal from Voyager 1. This spacecraft is the first human-made object to leave the solar system: “To boldly go where no spacecraft has gone before,” to paraphrase Star Trek.

Amazing But True!

Credit: NASA
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Voyager.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Voyager space probe [Figure2]

  • Voyager 1 was launched in 1977.
  • The spacecraft visited Jupiter and Saturn on its way out of the Solar System.
  • Voyager 1 passed through the heliopause, where the solar wind stops in 2012.
  • In August 2012, Voyager 1 entered interstellar space. This was not confirmed until September 2013.
  • Voyager 1 is still within the Sun’s gravitational field. It will take about 30,000 years to pass through the Oort Cloud, where long-period comets come from.
  • In 40,000 years the spacecraft will be within 1.6 light years of a star, Gliese 445.

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With the links below, learn more about Voyager 1. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is the heliosphere?
  2. What did the massive eruption on the Sun do to the medium around Voyager 1? What did the scientists interpret this to mean?
  3. The instruments on Voyager 1 will be turned off in 2020. Why?
  4. What is the Golden Record?
  5. Why do some people say that the Golden Record is a time capsule, rather than a serious attempt to communicate with other intelligent life?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Robert Lopez; Source: CK-12 Foundation; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: NASA; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Voyager.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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