Our next Free public program will be on Thursday, November 6, 7 pm at the Huntsville - Madison County Main Public Library's Auditorium. Dr. Vladimir Florinski, Associate Professor, Department of Space Science and CSPAR UAH will be talking to us about "Voyager: The First Year in Interstellar Space"
Over the Edge
The solar system exists inside a giant plasma bubble blown out by the solar wind and shaped by its interaction with the surrounding space of the Milky Way galaxy that we call the heliosphere. The bubble shields us from interstellar gas and, to a degree, from the penetrating space radiation known as cosmic rays. In September of 2012 a robotic NASA probe has crossed the boundary of the heliosphere and entered interstellar space. For my fellow space scientists this event is as significant as the first landing of a spacecraft on another planet. I will explain how scientists learn about the shape and properties of the heliosphere from remote observations and how the missing pieces are reconstructed through computer simulations. Exploring such remote regions of space is extremely challenging, not least because the twin Voyager spacecraft are now more than 35 years old and were built with computer technology that was state of the art in the 1970s. Hardware breakdowns and apparent discrepancies between different instruments were the reasons NASA only confirmed the crossing a year an a half later. The Voyagers made a bounty of discoveries while inside the heliosphere, and we expect to learn much more about interstellar space over the next 10 years, until the probes runs out of power. For now, it appears that interstellar space is just really, really quiet.
The event is free and open to the public. Please see HAL5 News and Calendar page for more upcoming events.