Life Of Navin

Random Musings, Random Bullshit.


Goodbye Ulysses.....Thou Shalt Be Missed!!

NASA has announced that Ulysses, the solar space-probe, will cease operations around the 1st of July, after spending nearly 18 years in the realms of outer space. The NASA-ESA collaboration probe has been suffering from a decline in its plutonium power for quite some time. Despite extreme conservation measures by ground controllers, the power has dwindled to the point where thruster fuel soon will literally freeze up within its pipelines.

Ulysses, a 370-kg probe already has surpassed its expected lifetime by almost four times, traveling 5.4 billion miles (Wow!!) since its launch aboard space shuttle Discovery in October 1990.The $250 million spacecraft studied the sun, in particular its poles and the heliosphere, the region around the sun carved out by the solar wind.Ulysses passed Jupiter on February 8 1992. Jupiter's gravity then bent the spacecraft's flight path downward and away from the ecliptic plane to place the spacecraft in a final orbit around the sun that would take it past our star's north and south poles.

Packed with 10 observational instruments, Ulysses is the only satellite to have circled the Sun's poles. Its principle objective was to explore the boundaries and impact of the Sun's heliosphere.

The numerous findings of Ulysses include:

  • The sun's magnetic field is carried into the solar system in a more complicated manner than previously believed.
  • The solar wind travels at speeds nealy double of what was expected by space scientists.
  • Particles expelled by the sun from low latitudes can climb to high latitudes and vice versa, sometimes unexpectedly finding their way out into the solar system.
  • Dust flowing into our solar system from deep space was shown to be 30 times more abundant than astronomers suspected.
  • The spacecraft detected helium atoms from deep space and confirmed the universe does not contain enough matter to eventually halt its expansion.

Ulysses ends its career after revealing that the magnetic field emanating from the sun's poles is much weaker than previously observed. This could mean the upcoming solar maximum period will be less intense than in recent history.

More information about the joint NASA/ESA Ulysses mission is available at

When the last bits of data finally arrive, it surely will be tough to say goodbye, but any sadness I might feel will pale in comparison to the pride of working on such a magnificent mission. Although operations will be ending, scientific discoveries from Ulysses data will continue for years to come --Nigel Angold, ESA mission operations manager



Finally after all these years, here's to the beginning of what was there, what is there and hopefully what will remain!! So here are my thoughts & words -Online!!

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