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February 9th, 2017

25 Years Ago... Solar Probe Ulysses' Gravity Boost by Jupiter was Launched Into a Third Dimension

25 Years ago Solar Probe Ulysses got a gravity assist by Jupiter to leave the ecliptic plane to explore the "never seen before" poles of the Sun.

A little history lesson in memory of a great satellite built by Airbus...

After sixteen months of interplanetary cruise, ESA/NASA's Solar Probe Ulysses arrived on February 8, 1992, at Jupiter the Solar System´s largest planet.

A Jupiter gravity-assist was used to place the spacecraft, built by Airbus, in its unique trajectory which took the probe into the previously unexplored third dimension of the heliosphere. Ulysses surveyed the environment above and below the poles of the Sun.

In the course of its 17.5 year mission Ulysses showed, among other results, that the heliospheric magnetic field is more complicated than had been thought. Ulysses also observed the solar wind in four dimensions, showed that energetic particles are present at all phases of a solar cycle, detected dust particles of interstellar origin and directly measured the properties of interstellar gas for the first time.

The spacecraft was retired mid-2008 after flawless operation and exceeding its designed lifetime of five years by far.