Where are you headed probes “the Voyagers” and “Pioneers”, and how long they will be there to fly

Spacecraft “Voyager” and “Pioneer”, launched from Earth in the 1970-ies, continue to follow their paths that brought them out beyond the Solar system. In a new report, published in the journal IOPscience scientists predict the future of these probes and trying to determine what nearby star systems, they will fly a few million years, according to the portal Space.

2 Mar 1972 space Agency NASA launched the space probe “pioneer 10”, which will be the first man-made spacecraft, which overcame the main asteroid belt of the Solar system located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and is the site of accumulation of a set of objects of various sizes, mostly of irregular shape, called asteroids or small planets. About a year later will be launched into space “pioneer 11”. In 1977 within a few weeks, NASA will launch the first “Voyager-2” and then “Voyager-1”. These devices, as well as more “fresh” probe “New horizons”is the only spacecraft created by humanity and has reached interstellar space.

To date, “Voyage-1 andVoyager-2” has overcome that barrier. However, if “pioneer 10”, “pioneer-11” and “New horizons” will continue their journey, then they will eventually go beyond the sphere of solar influence, called the heliosphere and out to interstellar space.

Sooner or later all these satellites will be over food, and they will perish; their scientific equipment will cease to function and the probes will no longer be able to get in touch with the Earth. By the way the last times, when “pioneer 10” and “pioneer-11” sent signals back home was in 2003 and 1995 respectively. Despite the fact that these devices can no longer transmit data to Earth, scientists were able to figure out near any stars, they will fly in a few million years.

Scientists say that calculating these data was a daunting task, because not only probes moving away from Earth, but the space around them, too. Astronomers Corinne A. L., Bailer-Jones of radio Astronomy of max Planck Institute (Germany) and David Farnocchia of the Center for the study of near-earth objects at the jet propulsion Laboratory of NASA (USA, California) were able to calculate the trajectory of the vehicles and their probable destinations, using three-dimensional data about the positions and radial velocities of 7.2 million stars that were obtained during the second analysis of the data gathered by the space Observatory Gaia, whose goal is the study of more than 1 billion surrounding our star system.

In his study, Bailer-Jones and Farnocchia calculate that the next star, by which 16 700 light years will fly probe “Voyager-1” is Proxima Centauri. However, this meeting will not be anything interesting, since the probe and the unit will be split 1.1 parsec, which is equivalent to almost 3,59 a light year. It is very, very far away. In fact, at the moment, “Voyager 1” is about 1.3 parsec away from the star (4.24 light years), which is a little further from his upcoming rendezvous with Proximal. For reference: the Sun is 1.29 parsecs (4.24 light years) from Proxima Centauri.

The nearest star, which will meet the probe “Voyager-2” and “pioneer-11” will also be Proxima Centauri, but “Pioneer 10” is scheduled rendezvous with another star Ross 248, a red dwarf 10.3 light years from Earth located in the constellation Andromeda.

Scientists also calculated later prospects meetings of spacecraft to other stars. For example, “Voyageur-1” get close enough to the star TYC 3135-52-1, located at 46.9 light years from us, in about 302 700 years. Past luminaries probe will fly at a distance of just 0.30 per parsec that at least one light-years – close enough to penetrate the Oort cloud of the star representing a hypothetical spherical region of the system, serving as a source of long-period comets (of course, if a star has a analog to the Oort cloud, which is in our system).

In addition, the researchers found that “Voyager-1” will fly at a very short distance (just 0.39 of a parsec or a light year to 1.27) close to the star Gaia DR2 2091429484365218432 located in 159,5 parsec (520,22 light-years) from the Sun. Recall that our Sun and Proxima Centauri (nearest star) are separated by a distance of 1.29 parsecs (4.24 light years). According to estimates of astronomers, the unit will fly past Gaia DR2 through 3.4 million years.

In conversation with journalists Space.com Bailer-Jones noted that this study has pushed them to their previous work, which was to identify possible homeland, as well as the future trajectory of the strange object called “Omwamwi” over the mystery of nature which is still struggling for many astronomers around the world.

“It was pretty fun. But this study reminds us, how long will it take to get the spacecraft closest to the Solar system of stars when the current achievable speeds, which now stands at about 15 kilometers per second. If we want to study the nearest stars, we just need to come up with ways to accelerate our spacecraft to higher speeds,” commented Bailer-Jones.