I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

To the ends of the Universe... and BEYOND!

Those of you readers who may be on the far side of the hill, age-wise, probably remember the excitement surrounding the launch of the Voyager missions by NASA back in the seventies. Well, believe it or not, those little energizer bunnies of the space age are still going. And now, Voyager II is within sight of the actual edge of our solar system and is about to become only the second man made object to leave the Sun's realm entirely and head out into true "deep space." (Voyager I did it last year.)

(SPACE.com) -- Voyager II could pass beyond the outermost layer of our solar system, called the "termination shock," sometime within the next year, NASA scientists announced at a media teleconference Tuesday.

The milestone, which comes about a year after Voyager 1's crossing, comes earlier than expected and suggests to scientists that the edge of the shock is about one billion miles closer to the sun in the southern region of the solar system than in the north.

Scientists determined that Voyager I was approaching the termination shock when it began detecting charged particles that were being pushed back toward the sun by charged particles coming from outside our solar system. This occurred when Voyager 1 was about 85 AU from the sun.

The whole concept of the "termination shock" has always been interesting to me. It's a boundary where the charged particles and radiation from the solar wind meet the incoming "wind" from the rest of the galaxy, nearby stars, etc. While theories abound, nobody really knows for sure what goes on in true "deep space" (the area between the stars) so this is pretty exciting. It's just a shame that we didn't have the technology in the seventies to pack a bunch of sensors on Voyager to send back information on exactly what it finds out there.

Of course, we left a map showing how to get to our planet on that craft, so if any wandering extraterrestrials happen to pick it up out in the deep black... well, set an extra place for dinner. Who knows? We may have company.

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