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Unmanned > Outer Solar System > Pluto / KBO
Today's newspaper had an article on IBEX spacecraft, which will study the far reaches of the solar system... from Earth orbit!

The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) is a NASA satellite that will make the first map of the boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space.

Departure of the L-1011 carrier aircraft from Vandenberg, carrying the Pegasus XL rocket with IBEX, occured last week 10th October. After a stop in Hawaii, the flight will continue and arrive at the Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific on Oct. 11 or 12.
Planned launchdate is Sunday 19th October 2008

Topic might be moved to another subforum huh.gif
Fran Ontanaya
Theory question: would IBEX see a bump punched in the heliosphere by the magnetic field of a Jupiter-like body beyond the Kuiper Belt?
IBEX scheduled launch now just 40 hours away. Countdown events now displayed at the KSC ELV:
(mis)Reported on CNN:

"The solar wind, a stream of charged particles spewing from the sun at 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) per hour, carves out a protective bubble around the solar system. This bubble known as the heliosphere shields against most dangerous cosmic radiation that would otherwise interfere with human spaceflight."

Oh goody! So we're all safe now, right?
About 222 minutes away from launch ...
The launch blog says:

Countdown preparations are continuing, but forecasters are watching raining on the runway at Kwajalein and there are storm cells nearby.

Edit: looks like a good launch! smile.gif
The 462 kg Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) was indeed successfully launched smile.gif

Hi everyone here in Unmanned Spaceflight, I'm a newbie to the forums here - so go easy on me! I've been reading the boards here over the past few days and I have to say they are excellent - I'm a space exploration buff so I'll be hanging around for the long run! smile.gif

I was reading an online article in one of our Irish daily newspapers' websites about the IBEX mission, and it was full of complete inaccuracies and sensationalist nonsense. For instance, the article said that the Heliosphere was shrinking dramatically and that this was going to put humankind in possible grave danger of cosmic rays and other space borne radiation. Surely Earth's magnetic field is a much more powerful shield of these phenomena than the Heliosphere? Or have I not been reading up on my outer space particles and fields properly?

I dearly hope both Voyagers cross into full interstellar space in the next decade. That would be epoch-making.
Thanks Enceladus75, & welcome aboard! (not -23 or -42? biggrin.gif )

I guess this is the story: Radiation threat to all life on Earth
If the heliosphere disappeared, the cosmic radiation would make life on Earth almost impossible by destroying DNA and leaving the climate uninhabitable.

David McComas, the principal investigator on the Ibex mission, said: "There is no imminent danger, but it is hard to know what the future holds.
"It is likely that there are natural variations in solar wind pressure and over time it will either stabilise or start going back up."

rolleyes.gif (at the journalist and especially the sub, of course, not Dr McComas!)

Incidentally, fans of the Bad Astronomer and similar debunkers might enjoy Bad Science, spun off from Ben Goodacre's usually excellent newspaper column and blog.
NASA's InterstellarBoundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft -- the first mission designed to imagethe interaction at the edge of the solar system -- concluded its orbit-raising phase and is beginning instrument commissioning inpreparation to start science observations.
IBEX results to be published in Science next October. They promise to be interesting...
IBEX mission briefing will be on NASA-TV today.
NASA to Reveal Data Showing a New View of Our Galaxy

WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a NASA Science Update at 2:15 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Oct. 15, to discuss new science data of our galaxy obtained from the agency's Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, spacecraft. NASA Television and the agency's Web site will provide live coverage of the briefing from the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St. SW, in Washington.

Very interesting. And IBEX PI Dave McComas makes it all sound even more interesting:
IBEX results published in yesterday's Science
With this, the low-cost IBEX leaps ahead of many other supposedly scientific missions in terms of its publications' "impact factor"
Ibex data combined with that of other observations find that the interstellar wind might have changed direction.

A paper were published in Science Sept 5, but linking here to a press release from University of New Hampshire with a summary of the findings.
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