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IBEX Mission to Our Solar System

Goals: IBEX, or Interstellar Boundary Explorer, is designed to detect the edge of our solar system. Operating from Earth orbit, the spacecraft uses neutral atom images to detect particles from the termination shock at the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space.

Accomplishments: IBEX made the first all-sky maps of the heliosphere. One of the immediate results was a surprise: the maps are bisected by a bright, winding ribbon of unknown origin. The finding could change our understanding of the heliosphere.

Key Dates
19 Oct 2008:  Launch
Status: In Flight
Fast Facts
IBEX Facts IBEX was carried into orbit by a Pegasus XL rocket launched from an L-1011 aircraft (right).

IBEX data will be used in conjunction with data colleced by the twin Voyager spacecraft as they travel out of our solar system.

IBEX is part of NASA's low-cost Explorer program.

Unlike many satellites in space that collect light, IBEX collects particles.

The satellite spins as it orbits so that over the course of six months, each sensor has the opportunity to collect particles from every part of the sky.

The spacecraft keeps track of the area the particles came when they entered the sensor, their mass and the amount of energy in each of them. This allows scientists to build a map (above).
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Last Updated: 7 Jun 2015