Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Spacecraft Ready To Explore Outer Solar System

Date:
October 8, 2008
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
The first NASA spacecraft to image and map the dynamic interactions taking place where the hot solar wind slams into the cold expanse of space is ready for launch Oct. 19. The two-year mission will begin from the Kwajalein Atoll, a part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

An artist's impression of NASA's IBEX spacecraft exploring the edge of our solar system.
Credit: NASA/GSFC

The first NASA spacecraft to image and map the dynamic interactions taking place where the hot solar wind slams into the cold expanse of space is ready for launch Oct. 19. The two-year mission will begin from the Kwajalein Atoll, a part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Related Articles


Called the Interstellar Boundary Explorer or IBEX, the spacecraft will conduct extremely high-altitude orbits above Earth to investigate and capture images of processes taking place at the farthest reaches of the solar system. Known as the interstellar boundary, this region marks where the solar system meets interstellar space.

"The interstellar boundary regions are critical because they shield us from the vast majority of dangerous galactic cosmic rays, which otherwise would penetrate into Earth's orbit and make human spaceflight much more dangerous," said David J. McComas, IBEX principal investigator and senior executive director of the Space Science and Engineering Division at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

The story of the outer solar system began to unfold when the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecrafts left the inner solar system and headed out toward the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space.

"The Voyager spacecraft are making fascinating observations of the local conditions at two points beyond the termination shock that show totally unexpected results and challenge many of our notions about this important region," said McComas.

Other spacecraft have continued the exploration of the interstellar boundary region. Recently, a pair of NASA sun-focused satellites, the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory mission, detected a higher-energy version of the particles IBEX will observe in the heliosphere. The heliosphere is an area that contains the solar wind. It stretches from the sun to a distance several times the orbit of Pluto.

IBEX is poised to thoroughly map this interstellar boundary region of the solar system. The images will allow scientists to understand the global interaction between our sun and the galaxy for the very first time.

IBEX will be launched aboard a Pegasus rocket dropped from under the wing of an L-1011 aircraft flying over the Pacific Ocean. The Pegasus will carry the spacecraft approximately 130 miles above Earth and place it in orbit.

"What makes the IBEX mission unique is that it has an extra kick during launch," said Willis Jenkins, IBEX program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "An extra solid-state motor pushes the spacecraft further out of low-Earth orbit where the Pegasus launch vehicle leaves it."

The IBEX mission is the next in NASA's series of low-cost, rapidly developed Small Explorers spacecraft. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the Explorers Program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The mission was developed by Southwest Research Institute with national and international partner participation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Spacecraft Ready To Explore Outer Solar System." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081006155921.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2008, October 8). NASA Spacecraft Ready To Explore Outer Solar System. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081006155921.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Spacecraft Ready To Explore Outer Solar System." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081006155921.htm (accessed April 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hubble Telescope: 25 Years Of Revealing The Universe

Hubble Telescope: 25 Years Of Revealing The Universe

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2015) Despite a blurry start to its service, the Hubble Space Telescope is still serving as one of the best visual science tools on or off the planet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hubble Telescope Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Hubble Telescope Celebrates 25th Anniversary

AP (Apr. 23, 2015) NASA&apos;s Hubble Space Telescope is celebrating its 25th anniversary of being placed into orbit. NASA unveiled the official Hubble anniversary image to mark the occasion. (April 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hubble Turns 25

The Hubble Turns 25

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 22, 2015) The Hubble telescope turns 25, marking a milestone in the history of space exploration. As Pavithra George reports, NASA is celebrating the technology, saying Hubble has "rewritten the text books." Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Teens Compete, Help Shape Future of NASA

Teens Compete, Help Shape Future of NASA

AP (Apr. 21, 2015) This week, 17,000 students from 30 countries are competing in the 20th FIRST Robotics Championship in St. Louis, including a team from Houston that, a few years ago, helped influence the design of a NASA rover. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins