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Beyond the heliosphere

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:43 am
by brian livesey
So far, four space probes have escaped the Sun's influence. How far away are they and where are they headed?
The most distant probe is Voyager 1 ( launched in 1977 ), now at a distance of 10.9 billion miles. Some 40,000 years from now, Voyager 1 will pass 1.6 light years from the star AC+79 3888 in Camelopardalis.
Pioneer 10 is the next most distant space probe ( launched in 1972 ) at 9.6 billion miles distance. The probe is heading in the general direction of Aldebaran and should arrive in the vicinity in 2 million years time.
The third most distant space probe is Voyager 2 ( launched in 1977 ) at 8.8 billion miles distance. The probe will pass within 1.7 lyrs of the star Ross 248 and 4.3 lyrs from Sirius, in about 298,000 years time.
Finally, the fourth most distant space probe is Pioneer 11 ( launched in 1973 ) at 7.8 billion miles distance. It will pass close to the nearest star in Aquila in about 4 million years time.
For interstellar space probes, there's all the time in the world. We can only wonder how many space probes might be heading our way .. .