DAVID A. HARDY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID A. HARDY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Ulysses and the Sun. Conceptual artwork of the solar spacecraft Ulysses and the heliosphere of the Sun. Ulysses was launched in 1990, to study the Sun and its solar wind outside the ecliptic plane of the planetary orbits. It followed a polar solar orbit over both poles of the Sun (1994-5) at a minimum period of solar activity, observing a stable, fast polar solar wind. A second orbit (2000-1) studied the more variable winds during the solar maximum. The heliosphere boundary (heliopause, yellow), far outside the region of the planets, is where the solar wind is halted by the interstellar gas medium. Movement through this medium distorts the heliosphere.
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