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  • richardmitnick 7:40 am on July 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , NASA Voyager 1, the PARIS REVIEW   

    From the PARIS REVIEW: “Dark Was the Night” 

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    the PARIS REVIEW

    July 20, 2016
    Alison Kinney

    On the Voyager Mission.

    NASA/Voyager 1
    NASA/Voyager 1

    If the inhabitants of other stars should spot the Voyager 1 interstellar probe zooming past—if they capture it and assemble its onboard audio player—and if they have ears to hear, they might puzzle over this message from the Queen of the Night (translated here from German):

    The vengeance of hell boils in my heart,
    Death and despair blaze around me!

    Perhaps these German-speaking aliens will visit Earth to eradicate the threat posed by Mozart’s 1791 aria. Or maybe they’ll thrill to the prospect of subscribing to the Bavarian State Opera, only to discover that the soprano Edda Moser, who performed the recording they’d heard, had retired five billion years earlier, in 1999.

    Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 is the first human-made object to depart our solar system, bearing the Voyager Interstellar Message (better known as the Golden Record), a gold-plated disk containing music, pictures, and greetings in fifty-five languages. One project consultant said, “There is only an infinitesimal chance that the plaque will ever be seen by a single extraterrestrial, but it will certainly be seen by billions of terrestrials. Its real function, therefore, is to appeal to and expand the human spirit.”

    In making their selections, the Interstellar Message team tried to accentuate the positive—but art and culture, even NASA-approved art and culture, tend toward revelations in excess of their creators’ intentions. Though the team opted not to mention the nuclear arms race, Auschwitz, the Khmer Rouge, transatlantic enslavement, and the genocide of Native peoples, it was clear, as the team’s creative director, Ann Druyan, said, “how much of what we tried to hide was more obvious than we realized.… The lies we tell have a very short shelf life.” One of the greeters, for example—UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim—was later accused of Nazi war crimes.

    And the approved music carries its own messages about conflict. The artist and team member Jon Lomberg, a fan of Mozart, Rossini, and baroque opera and oratorio, told me he ranks Mozart’s music “with sex, sunsets, and sushi as among life’s greatest pleasures.” Lomberg gave Carl Sagan a tape of an aria from Mozart’s ethereal, antic fantasy The Magic Flute. (“A wish-list project is to design a stage production of Magic Flute,” he told me. “I could do some interesting things visually with the Queen of the Night!”)

    Druyan wasn’t an opera fan, but she was “absolutely thrilled” by the recording; she extolled the mastery and emotional range of Moser’s voice. “It’s like a little mechanism for touching all the parts of you, when you hear it. It’s so exciting, and of course, that wonderful passage where she seems to defy gravity, and she goes higher and higher and higher … She’s the Queen of the Night, and you imagine these two Voyagers, moving around forty thousand miles per hour through the night, for all the nights of a thousand million years,” Druyan said. “The idea that she retains her dominance of the night, from Mozart’s brain to the cosmos, is the closest thing we get to eternity.”

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    Flying board Voyagers 1 and 2 are identical “golden” records, carrying the story of Earth far into deep space. The 12 inch gold-plated copper discs contain greetings in 60 languages, samples of music from different cultures and eras, and natural and man-made sounds from Earth. They also contain electronic information that an advanced technological civilization could convert into diagrams and photographs. NASA

    But the Queen’s dominance isn’t just artistic. The Voyager aria, “Der Hölle Rache,” is about assassination, violent coercion, and parental abuse. As Lomberg said, Mozart is “the genius of musical contradiction and reconciliation of opposites.” The crystalline, stratospheric perfection of Moser’s voice rings with power: both murderous political absolutism and virtuosic mastery. Sometimes the loveliest music exhorts you to kill. Among the disk’s other songs about violence, the Bulgarian folk song “Izlel ye Delyo Haydutin,” performed by Valya Balkanska, stars a rebel warrior, warning the authorities not to convert his aunts to Islam—or else.

    The team might have confined themselves to wedding songs, nonverbal music, or the whale’s song, but Druyan said she saw the recording as both a conceptual artwork and an act of atonement. The disk also includes a recording of her brain waves, during which, she said, “I was trying to be honest in my meditation about the real state of the world, the history of the world … as well as the plight that we found ourselves in, in 1977—fifty to sixty thousand nuclear weapons, and at least one-fifth of the whole population of Earth couldn’t find potable water, get enough to eat, find shelter. So I tried to be honest about our worst.” The reckoning with violence, war, and responsibility, indivisible from beauty, is Voyager’s most profound message to the universe.

    There’s no reason to expect an extraterrestrial to understand. Musicologists debunk the supposedly universal communicative potential of music even among different peoples of our own planet. When not everybody understands German—when happy and sad songs don’t cross cultures—when even a bel-canto fan might profess not to get Verdi, much less Schönberg—no aria can universally connote beauty, much less understanding, self-revelation, or ethical standards. But the Voyager message also suggests, tacitly, the desire not to be wholly understood, by either extraterrestrials or future earthlings. If our music and chatter turn out to be unintelligible to them, than we might earnestly hope that murder, genocide, and deprivation will be, too.

    We can still marvel that this fragment of opera, and the Navajo “Night Chant,” and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night,” hurtle through the vast nighttime of space. We can also fantasize that one of Lomberg’s alternate musical suggestions might have gone aboard Voyager: the tender, charming “Voi che sapete” from Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro, a youth’s amazement at the mysteries of love. May all opera fans’ minds be blown by the concept of Cherubino in space! May we all sing of love, of nothing making sense to us, and of yearning to understand the world a little bit better.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 3:16 pm on October 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NASA Voyager 1   

    From JPL-Caltech: “Voyager 1 Helps Solve Interstellar Medium Mystery” 

    JPL-Caltech

    October 29, 2015
    Elizabeth Landau
    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-6425
    Elizabeth.Landau@jpl.nasa.gov

    1

    NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft made history in 2012 by entering interstellar space, leaving the planets and the solar wind behind. But observations from the pioneering probe were puzzling with regard to the magnetic field around it, as they differed from what scientists derived from observations by other spacecraft.

    A new study offers fresh insights into this mystery. Writing in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Nathan Schwadron of the University of New Hampshire, Durham, and colleagues reanalyzed magnetic field data from Voyager 1 and found that the direction of the magnetic field has been slowly turning ever since the spacecraft crossed into interstellar space. They believe this is an effect of the nearby boundary of the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that comes from the sun.

    “This study provides very strong evidence that Voyager 1 is in a region where the magnetic field is being deflected by the solar wind,” said Schwadron, lead author of the study.

    Researchers predict that in 10 years Voyager 1 will reach a more “pristine” region of the interstellar medium where the solar wind does not significantly influence the magnetic field.

    Voyager 1’s crossing into interstellar space meant it had left the heliosphere — the bubble of solar wind surrounding our sun and the planets. Observations from Voyager’s instruments found that the particle density was 40 times greater outside this boundary than inside, confirming that it had indeed left the heliosphere.

    But so far, Voyager 1’s observation of the direction of the local interstellar magnetic field is more than 40 degrees off from what other spacecraft have determined. The new study suggests this discrepancy exists because Voyager 1 is in a more distorted magnetic field just outside the heliopause, which is the boundary between the solar wind and the interstellar medium.

    “If you think of the magnetic field as a rubber band stretched around a beach ball, that band is being deflected around the heliopause,” Schwadron said.

    In 2009, NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) discovered a “ribbon” of energetic neutral atoms that is thought to hold clues to the direction of the pristine interstellar magnetic field.

    NASA IBEX
    IBEX

    The so-called “IBEX ribbon,” which forms a circular arc in the sky, remains mysterious, but scientists believe it is produced by a flow of neutral hydrogen atoms from the solar wind that were re-ionized in nearby interstellar space and then picked up electrons to become neutral again.

    The new study uses multiple data sets to confirm that the magnetic field direction at the center of the IBEX ribbon is the same direction as the magnetic field in the pristine interstellar medium. Observations from the NASA/ESA Ulysses and SOHO spacecraft also support the new findings.

    NASA Ulysses
    NASA/ESA Ulysses

    NASA SOHO
    NASA/ESA SOHO

    “All of these different data sets that have been collected over the last 25 years have been pointing toward the same meeting point in the field,” Schwadron said.

    Over time, the study suggests, at increasing distances from the heliosphere, the magnetic field will be oriented more and more toward “true north,” as defined by the IBEX ribbon. By 2025, if the field around Voyager 1 continues to steadily turn, Voyager 1 will observe the same magnetic field direction as IBEX. That would signal Voyager 1’s arrival in a less distorted region of the interstellar medium.

    “It’s an interesting way to look at the data. It gives a prediction of how long we’ll have to go before Voyager 1 is in the medium that’s no longer strongly perturbed,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist, based at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who was not involved in this study.

    While Voyager 1 will continue delivering insights about interstellar space, its twin probe Voyager 2 is also expected to cross into the interstellar medium within the next few years. Voyager 2 will make additional observations of the magnetic field in interstellar space and help scientists refine their estimates.

    Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched 16 days apart in 1977. Both spacecraft flew by Jupiter and Saturn. Voyager 2 also flew by Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 2, launched before Voyager 1, is the longest continuously operated spacecraft. Voyager 1 is the most distant object touched by human hands.

    JPL, a division of Caltech, built the twin Voyager spacecraft and operates them for the Heliophysics Division within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

    For more information about Voyager, visit:

    http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov

    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 2:19 pm on July 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Voyager 1   

    From space.com: “Confirmed: Voyager 1 in Interstellar Space” 

    space-dot-com logo

    July 08, 2014
    Mike Wall, Senior Writer

    New data collected by NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft have helped scientists confirm that the far-flung probe is indeed cruising through interstellar space, the researchers say.

    NASA Voyager 1
    NASA Voyager 1

    Voyager 1 made headlines around the world last year when mission scientists announced that the probe had apparently left the heliosphere — the huge bubble of charged particles and magnetic fields surrounding the sun — in August 2012.

    They came to this conclusion after analyzing measurements Voyager 1 made in the wake of a powerful solar eruption known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME. The shock wave from this CME caused the particles around Voyager 1 to vibrate substantially, allowing mission scientists to calculate the density of the probe’s surroundings (because denser plasma oscillates faster.)

    This density was much higher than that observed in the outer layers of the heliosphere, allowing team members to conclude that Voyager 1 had entered a new cosmic realm. (Instellar space is emptier than areas near Earth, but the solar system thins out dramatically near the heliosphere’s edge.)

    The CME in question erupted in March 2012, and its shock wave reached Voyager 1 in April 2013. After these data came in, the team dug up another, much smaller CME-shock event from late 2012 that had initially gone unnoticed. By combining these separate measurements with knowledge of Voyager 1’s cruising speed, the researchers were able to trace the probe’s entry into interstellar space to August 2012.

    And now mission scientists have confirmation, in the form of data from a third CME shock, which Voyager 1 observed in March of this year, NASA officials announced Monday (July 7).

    “We’re excited to analyze these new data,” Don Gurnett of the University of Iowa, the principal investigator of Voyager 1’s plasma wave instrument, said in a statement. “So far, we can say that it confirms we are in interstellar space.”

    Interstellar space begins where the heliosphere ends. But by some measures, Voyager 1 remains inside the solar system, which is surrounded by a shell of comets known as the Oort Cloud.

    Oort cloud
    Oort cloud

    While it’s unclear exactly how far away from Earth the Oort Cloud lies, Voyager 1 won’t get there for quite a while. NASA scientists have estimated that Voyager 1 will emerge from the Oort Cloud in 14,000 to 28,000 years.

    The craft launched in September 1977, about two weeks after its twin, Voyager 2. The probes embarked upon a “grand tour” of the outer solar system, giving the world some its first good looks at Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and the moons of these planets.

    Like Voyager 1, Voyager 2 is still active and operational. It took a different route through the solar system and is expected to follow its twin into interstellar space a few years from now.

    See the full article here.


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  • richardmitnick 11:37 am on September 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Voyager 1   

    From NASA/JPL at Caltech: “NASA Spacecraft Embarks on Historic Journey Into Interstellar Space” 

    September 12, 2013

    Jia-Rui C. Cook/D.C. Agle 818-354-0850/818-393-9011 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. jccook@jpl.nasa.gov
    Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726 Headquarters, Washington dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft officially is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space. The 36-year-old probe is about 12 billion miles (19 billion kilometers) from our sun.

    v1
    Voyager 1
    The Space Between: This artist’s concept shows the Voyager 1 spacecraft entering the space between stars. Interstellar space is dominated by plasma, ionized gas (illustrated here as brownish haze), that was thrown off by giant stars millions of years ago. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    New and unexpected data indicate Voyager 1 has been traveling for about one year through plasma, or ionized gas, present in the space between stars. Voyager is in a transitional region immediately outside the solar bubble, where some effects from our sun are still evident. A report on the analysis of this new data, an effort led by Don Gurnett and the plasma wave science team at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, is published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Science.

    “Now that we have new, key data, we believe this is mankind’s historic leap into interstellar space,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. “The Voyager team needed time to analyze those observations and make sense of them. But we can now answer the question we’ve all been asking — ‘Are we there yet?’ Yes, we are.

    Voyager 1 first detected the increased pressure of interstellar space on the heliosphere, the bubble of charged particles surrounding the sun that reaches far beyond the outer planets, in 2004. Scientists then ramped up their search for evidence of the spacecraft’s interstellar arrival, knowing the data analysis and interpretation could take months or years.

    Voyager 1 does not have a working plasma sensor, so scientists needed a different way to measure the spacecraft’s plasma environment to make a definitive determination of its location. A coronal mass ejection, or a massive burst of solar wind and magnetic fields, that erupted from the sun in March 2012 provided scientists the data they needed. When this unexpected gift from the sun eventually arrived at Voyager 1’s location 13 months later, in April 2013, the plasma around the spacecraft began to vibrate like a violin string. On April 9, Voyager 1’s plasma wave instrument detected the movement. The pitch of the oscillations helped scientists determine the density of the plasma. The particular oscillations meant the spacecraft was bathed in plasma more than 40 times denser than what they had encountered in the outer layer of the heliosphere. Density of this sort is to be expected in interstellar space.

    The plasma wave science team reviewed its data and found an earlier, fainter set of oscillations in October and November 2012. Through extrapolation of measured plasma densities from both events, the team determined Voyager 1 first entered interstellar space in August 2012.

    “We literally jumped out of our seats when we saw these oscillations in our data — they showed us the spacecraft was in an entirely new region, comparable to what was expected in interstellar space, and totally different than in the solar bubble,” Gurnett said. “Clearly we had passed through the heliopause, which is the long-hypothesized boundary between the solar plasma and the interstellar plasma.”

    The new plasma data suggested a timeframe consistent with abrupt, durable changes in the density of energetic particles that were first detected on Aug. 25, 2012. The Voyager team generally accepts this date as the date of interstellar arrival. The charged particle and plasma changes were what would have been expected during a crossing of the heliopause.

    “The team’s hard work to build durable spacecraft and carefully manage the Voyager spacecraft’s limited resources paid off in another first for NASA and humanity,” said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “We expect the fields and particles science instruments on Voyager will continue to send back data through at least 2020. We can’t wait to see what the Voyager instruments show us next about deep space.”

    See the full article here.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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