Category : Technology
Throughout our history of space exploration so far, we've only sent four probes thinking that one day they will leave the solar system and reach alien stars. Astronomers have calculated when this will happen.
NASA has sent four devices into space, namely the Voyager-1 and Voyager-2 probes, as well as Pioneer-10 and Pioneer-11. Their ultimate goal was to reach stars other than the Sun and send information about them to humanity. Unfortunately, both devices Pioneer is no longer in contact, but Voyager missions still provide us with fascinating news about the solar system borders.
Despite the fact that astronomers will eventually lose contact with the Voyager, all four probes will still travel through the abyss of the universe and reach the stars. Astronomers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Institute of Astronomy Max Planck decided to answer the questions when it will happen and what the stars will be. It turns out that the answer to this question is in itself unusual.
Each probe will approach up to 4,500 stars at a distance of 15 parsecs (1 parse is about 3.27 light years). Within the next million years, the devices will fly about 2 parsecs away from 60 stars. Interestingly, the first star that will come across three probes on their path will be Proxima Centauri, the closest to us right after the Sun. Voyager-1 will fly past it in 16,700 years (1,072 parsese distance), Pioneer-11 in 18,300 years (1,040 parsese) and Voyager-2 in 20,300 years (distance 0.878 parsese).
Meanwhile, the Pioneer-10 spacecraft will see a star called Ross 248 from a distance of 1,041 parsecs in about 33,800 years. Astronomers also calculated, using data from the Gaia probe, that Pioneer-10 will be the first probe to fly into an alien planetary system. It will be closer than 0.23 parsese to HIP 117795, which is located in the constellation Cassiopeia.
Americans and Germans also said that in addition to a close meeting of three probes with Proxima Centauri, the Voyager-1 in 303,000 years will approach 0.30 parsese to the star TYC 3135-52-1, Voyager-2 in 42,000 years will pass the star Ross 248 at 0.53 parsese, and Pioneer-11 will fly 0.254 parsese from TYC 992-192-1 in 928 300 years.
We can confidently say that in so many years humanity will develop such powerful space propulsion for ships that we will reach the first stars thousands of years before the first close passes of these probes next to the stars, but despite this fact, it was still worth sending them, because they have already provided us incredibly different information not only about the planets of the solar system, but also about the borders of the heliosphere (heliopause) and interstellar space.