PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 28, 1991
Science teams on the Ulysses mission to the poles of the sun are preparing to begin physics investigations during the forthcoming encounter with Jupiter, European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA project officials reported Tuesday.
Ulysses' science objectives at Jupiter and recent scientific results were reviewed by Drs. Edward J. Smith of JPL and Klaus-Peter Wenzel of the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) at the 1991 Spring Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Baltimore, Md. Smith and Wenzel are the NASA and European project scientists, respectively, for the joint NASA-ESA mission.
The Ulysses spacecraft is presently traveling in the ecliptic plane -- the plane in which the planets of the solar system orbit -- on a trajectory that will use the gravity of Jupiter to deflect Ulysses out of the ecliptic plane and onward to the polar regions of the sun.
The 809-pound spacecraft is expected to reach the Jovian giant and its system of satellites on Feb. 8, 1992.
Once there, Ulysses will make measurements of the Jovian magnetosphere during a two-week sweep past the planet, said Dr. Edgar Page of the ESA Space Science Department.
The encounter will yield new information on Jupiter's magnetosphere, its interaction with the solar wind and the composition of energetic particles and positively charged atoms (ions) in the region influenced by the planet.
The spacecraft will fly past Jupiter at about 30 degrees north Jovian latitude, said JPL Ulysses Project Manager Willis Meeks. At nearest approach, Ulysses will pass the planet at approximately 6.3 Jupiter radii -- 450,480 kilometers or about 279,300 miles -- from the center.
Immediately after encounter, the spacecraft will be in "solar opposition," so that Earth is directly between the sun and the spacecraft. Scientists will use the spacecraft's radio transmitters to search for gravitational waves.
From there, Ulysses will use the extra acceleration gained from the gravitational pull of Jupiter to swing itself out of the ecliptic plane and onward to the southern solar pole. In June 1994, Ulysses will reach 70 degrees south solar latitude and begin its primary mission of exploring the polar regions of the sun and space above the poles.
At closest approach, Ulysses will travel within 1.3 astronomical units, or about 120 million miles, of the sun.
Ulysses is a five-year mission managed jointly by NASA and the European Space Agency. ESA provided the spacecraft, half of the onboard science instruments, the ground control computer system and spacecraft control personnel. NASA provided the launch vehicle, the other half of the onboard science instruments and the power supply.
Tracking and data collection during the mission are being provided by NASA's Deep Space Network, which is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.