Brave Ulysses


The Ulysses mission came to a close last week. It was launched aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1990 and planned to last five years. Good show!

From the joint NASA/ESA statement:

When it began in 1977, the Out-of-Ecliptic mission (as Ulysses was then called) represented the first major joint undertaking by ESA and NASA. It was also the first ESA scientific mission to have such a high percentage of non-European lead scientists, with many of the nine investigations under US responsibility. Undoubtedly, Ulysses stands out as an excellent example of international collaboration in space.

The scientific harvest has been extraordinarily rich, with many discoveries, some anticipated, and others completely unexpected. For example, the measurements made by the instruments on board Ulysses have completely changed our view of the Sun’s magnetic influence on the charged particles that populate the space in which our satellites and astronauts have to operate, leading in turn to new models of how the Sun’s magnetic field is carried out into space by the solar wind. The breadth of scientific investigations made possible by Ulysses is truly amazing, extending from the study of processes occurring within the Sun itself to the properties of our local interstellar neighbourhood. Data from Ulysses have even been used to shed light on questions of fundamental cosmological importance.

Check out the ESA archives for details.  And their anniversary video…