Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

SoylentNews is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop. Only 19 submissions in the queue.
posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 22 2019, @03:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the I'll-not-wait-around-to-watch dept.

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2515-5172/ab158e

Following their encounters with the outer planets in the 1970s and 1980s, Pioneers 10 and 11 and Voyagers 1 and 2 are now on escape trajectories out of the solar system. Although they will cease to operate long before encountering any stars (the Pioneers already have), it is nonetheless interesting to ask which stars they will pass closest to in the next few million years. We answer this here using the accurate 3D positions and 3D velocities of 7.2 million stars in the second Gaia data release (GDR2, Gaia Collaboration 2018), supplemented with radial velocities for 222,000 additional stars obtained from Simbad.3

We adopt the same method we used for tracing the possible origin (and future encounters) of the interstellar object 'Oumuamua (Bailer-Jones et al. 2018a). We determine the asymptotic trajectories of the four spacecraft by starting from their ephemerides from JPL's Horizons system,4 propagating them numerically to the year 2900, and then extrapolating to the asymptote. Using a linear motion approximation we then identify those stars which approach within 15 pc of each spacecraft (~4500 stars in each case). Finally, we integrate the orbits of these stars and the spacecraft through a Galactic potential and identify close encounters. Statistics of the encounter time, separation, and velocity are obtained by resampling the covariance of the stellar data and integrating the orbits of the resulting samples. The uncertainties on the asymptotic spacecraft trajectories are negligible compared to those of the stars, and are therefore neglected.

Meanwhile, Fox gives us the following:

....the next star that Voyager 1 will pass will be Earth's nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri, in 16,700 years. However, this encounter will be unremarkable, as the craft's closest approach will be 1.1 parsecs (pc) from the star, which equates to 3.59 light-years — very, very far away. In fact, Voyager 1 is currently 1.3 pc (4.24 light-years) from the star, so this encounter won't be much closer than the craft's current location is. (Earth's sun is 1.29 pc, or 4.24 light-years, away from Proxima Centauri.)

Voyager 2 and Pioneer 11's next close encounters will also be with Proxima Centauri, while Pioneer 10's next flyby will be with the star Ross 248, a small star 10.3 light-years from Earth in the constellation Andromeda.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Humanity's Most Distant Space Probe Jeopardized by Computer Glitch 14 comments

https://arstechnica.com/space/2024/02/humanitys-most-distant-space-probe-jeopardized-by-computer-glitch/

Voyager 1 is still alive out there, barreling into the cosmos more than 15 billion miles away. However, a computer problem has kept the mission's loyal support team in Southern California from knowing much more about the status of one of NASA's longest-lived spacecraft.

The computer glitch cropped up on November 14, and it affected Voyager 1's ability to send back telemetry data, such as measurements from the spacecraft's science instruments or basic engineering information about how the probe was doing. [...] "It would be the biggest miracle if we get it back. We certainly haven't given up," said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in an interview with Ars. "There are other things we can try. But this is, by far, the most serious since I've been project manager."

Dodd became the project manager for NASA's Voyager mission in 2010, overseeing a small cadre of engineers responsible for humanity's exploration into interstellar space. Voyager 1 is the most distant spacecraft ever, speeding away from the Sun at 38,000 mph (17 kilometers per second). [...] The latest problem with Voyager 1 lies in the probe's Flight Data Subsystem (FDS), one of three computers on the spacecraft working alongside a command-and-control central computer and another device overseeing attitude control and pointing. [...] In November, the data packages transmitted by Voyager 1 manifested a repeating pattern of ones and zeros as if it were stuck, according to NASA. Dodd said engineers at JPL have spent the better part of three months trying to diagnose the cause of the problem. She said the engineering team is "99.9 percent sure" the problem originated in the FDS, which appears to be having trouble "frame syncing" data. [...] "It's likely somewhere in the FDS memory," Dodd said. "A bit got flipped or corrupted. But without the telemetry, we can't see where that FDS memory corruption is."

[...] "We have sheets and sheets of schematics that are paper, that are all yellowed on the corners, and all signed in 1974," Dodd said. "They're pinned up on the walls and people are looking at them. That's a whole story in itself, just how to get to the information you need to be able to talk about the commanding decisions or what the problem might be." [...] "It is difficult to command Voyager," Dodd said. "We don't have any type of simulator for this. We don't have any hardware simulator. We don't have any software simulator... There's no simulator with the FDS, no hardware where we can try it on the ground first before we send it. So that makes people more cautious, and it's a balance between getting commanding right and taking risks."

[...] The spacecraft's vast distance and position in the southern sky require NASA to use the largest 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at a Deep Space Network tracking site in Australia, one of the network's most in-demand antennas.

"The data rates are very low, and this anomaly causes us not to have any telemetry," Dodd said. "We're kind of shooting in the blind a little bit because we don't know what the status of the spacecraft is completely."

Previously on SoylentNews:
Engineers Work to Fix Voyager 1 Computer - 20231215

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 2) by Snow on Wednesday May 22 2019, @03:51PM (13 children)

    by Snow (1601) on Wednesday May 22 2019, @03:51PM (#846267) Journal

    I would love to be a fly on the wall in a billion years when some distant civilization detects and recovers the satellite.

    How cool would that be? Could you imagine finding a satellite from another civilization?

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday May 22 2019, @04:11PM (8 children)

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday May 22 2019, @04:11PM (#846277) Journal

      I'd rather discover the alien civilizations and learn about them ASAP. We need that sweet, physics-bending faster-than-light travel.

      These spacecraft are making "close" approaches to stars that could render them legitimately impossible to find.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Wednesday May 22 2019, @06:35PM (7 children)

        by nitehawk214 (1304) on Wednesday May 22 2019, @06:35PM (#846350)

        Maybe the aliens are waiting for us to develop FTL.

        --
        "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Wednesday May 22 2019, @07:20PM (6 children)

          by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday May 22 2019, @07:20PM (#846357) Journal

          If we're extremely lucky, we'll be able to see inhabited (by at least vegetation or basic environment-altering life forms) exoplanets within the nearest 100 or 1,000 light years. We should be able to build truly massive modular space telescopes within the coming decades.

          I don't want to ascribe luck to a matter of something being physically possible or not, but it would be very fortunate if FTL is possible and gets developed.

          Otherwise, humanity will be very lonely.

          --
          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 2) by pvanhoof on Thursday May 23 2019, @12:49PM (1 child)

            by pvanhoof (4638) on Thursday May 23 2019, @12:49PM (#846620) Homepage

            > Otherwise, humanity will be very lonely.

            Or you could just learn being satisfied with a hominoid woman.

          • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Thursday May 23 2019, @01:45PM (3 children)

            by nitehawk214 (1304) on Thursday May 23 2019, @01:45PM (#846637)

            There are thousands of stars within 100ly of earth, including 500+ G type stars [solstation.com] and 900+ K type stars [solstation.com]. There have been over 2000 detected red dwarfs and smaller, but the vast majority are of those are too dim to be detected.

            A lot of these stars have habitable zones. I would be surprised if at least a few of these did not actually contain life. I'd like to think we will have the capability to detect life in my lifetime; but since we haven't done it yet, its hard to say how powerful of a telescope it will take. I hope we gain the technology to build large space telescopes more than once every 20 years or so.

            --
            "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday May 23 2019, @05:28PM (2 children)

              by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday May 23 2019, @05:28PM (#846718) Journal

              The good news is that it looks like we could get the large version [teslarati.com] of LUVOIR [wikipedia.org] lifted with BFR. So some of us could live to see a 15-meter space telescope (fulfilling the design goals of ATLAST [wikipedia.org]).

              However, that isn't planned for launch until perhaps 2039, which is absolutely absurd. We still need a paradigm shift that emphasizes big, cheap, and modular. BFR launch costs are so low that it doesn't make sense to obsessively test components for years and have carefully unfolding designs with potential mechanical failures. We could easily launch 20 giant segments, and put them together, possibly using astronauts. We could see a 100-meter aperture and massive light collecting capability. In fact, we could routinely build space telescopes with larger apertures than ground telescopes, since there are fewer mechanical stresses in free fall in a vacuum.

              --
              [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
              • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Thursday May 23 2019, @07:34PM (1 child)

                by nitehawk214 (1304) on Thursday May 23 2019, @07:34PM (#846754)

                Yeah, this all hinges on reducing the cost to space as far as possible.

                I'd like to see one using a "petal power" [nasa.gov] starshield as a separate spacecraft in front of a big space telescope, too.

                --
                "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
                • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday May 23 2019, @08:36PM

                  by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday May 23 2019, @08:36PM (#846781) Journal

                  It seems like nobody wants to deal with the complexity of a starshade. It's not in the ATLAST/LUVOIR-A proposals (there is an option for LUVOIR-B), and there's been no momentum [wikipedia.org] to build one for JWST (understandable). It would have to be positioned thousands of km away from the space telescope and might only work for one star depending on how it operates.

                  Given the possible complete failure of JWST, you probably wouldn't want to launch a billion dollar starshade until after JWST is operating. And it has about a 5-10 year estimated operating time.

                  --
                  [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 22 2019, @04:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 22 2019, @04:12PM (#846278)

      I would love to be a fly on the wall...[when aliens encounter probes]

      Unless they are Frog-People.

    • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Wednesday May 22 2019, @09:28PM (2 children)

      by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Wednesday May 22 2019, @09:28PM (#846389)

      I have spent my whole live imagining humanity's first contact.

      Unfortunately, when I was very young we were making great progress in space and would have Mars colonies up and running by the year 2000.

      Because profits from space are kind of long term (or non-existent) we have decided to largely do nothing, which is a real shame in my view.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 23 2019, @12:24AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 23 2019, @12:24AM (#846445)

        I have spent my whole live imagining humanity's first contact.

        Such a waste of valuable time

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 23 2019, @04:34AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 23 2019, @04:34AM (#846521)

          fapfapfapfapfap

(1)