Feeds

NASA projects IBEX heavenwards

Spacecraft prepares to sniff interstellar boundary

Top three mobile application threats

NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer mission, known to its chums as IBEX, was yesterday successfully projected heavenwards on its mission to "image and map dynamic interactions taking place in the outer solar system".

Pegasus rocket being dropped from the L-1011 aircraft. Pic: NASAThe spacecraft was carried aloft by a Pegasus rocket released from a L-1011 aircraft (see pic) operating from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. Following its separation from the rocket's third stage, IBEX "immediately began powering up components necessary to control onboard systems", and the operations team "is continuing to check out spacecraft subsystems".

Mission manager Greg Frazier said: "After a 45-day orbit raising and spacecraft checkout period, the spacecraft will start its exciting science mission."

That mission is to sniff the interstellar boundary beyond our heliosphere's termination shock - a region where "the hot solar wind slams into the cold expanse of space", as NASA previously put it. The agency's latest press release elaborates lyrically: "Just as an impressionist artist makes an image from countless tiny strokes of paint, IBEX will build an image of the outer boundary of the solar system from impacts on the spacecraft by high-speed particles called energetic neutral atoms (ENAs). These particles are created in the boundary region when the 1-million mph solar wind blows out in all directions from the sun and plows into the gas of interstellar space."

IBEX Principal Investigator David McComas chipped in with: "No one has seen an image of the interaction at the edge of our solar system where the solar wind collides with interstellar space. We know we're going to be surprised. It's a little like getting the first weather satellite images. Prior to that, you had to infer the global weather patterns from a limited number of local weather stations. But with the weather satellite images, you could see the hurricanes forming and the fronts developing and moving across the country."

IBEX will operate for a nominal two years from an altitude of 200,000 miles (322,00km) at apogee, using a pair of single-pixel “cameras” (IBEX-Lo IBEX-Hi) to detect ENAs with energies of 10 eV to 2 keV and 300 eV to 6 keV, respectively. NASA has a mission factsheet here (pdf). ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.