Named after the hero of Greek legend, Ulysses is a joint
mission between ESA and NASA which aims to explore the unknown space
above the poles of the sun. The spacecraft was provided by ESA which
also manages the mission operations. NASA provided the Space Shuttle
Discovery to get the craft into orbit around the Sun and the power
generator for the spacecraft.
was launched by the space shuttle Discovery in October 1990 and reached
Jupiter in February 1992. The probe then used Jupiter’s gravity to
slingshot to a 6.2-year orbit above the Sun’s poles. Ulysses passed
over the North Pole of the Sun in 1995 and 2001 and the South Pole in
1994 and 2000.
There are 11 scientific instruments
on board Ulysses, investigating phenomena ranging from the solar wind
to cosmic dust and gamma-ray bursts. Ultimately the data will enable
scientists to better understand the Sun and its heliosphere and perhaps
the Sun’s influence on the Earth’s climate.
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