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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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The end of a very long line [20080701|14:09]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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Raise a glass tonight, friends, to a faithful little spacecraft that's been whizzing around the Sun for over 17 years.

Ulysses was switched off today.

Launched from the Space Shuttle, it's traveled over 8 billion kilometres in its lifetime. It's seen the poles of the Sun, being the first spacecraft to have an orbit outside the ecliptic plane (defined by the Earth's orbit around the Sun). It's visited Jupiter and comets. It's been bombarded by cosmic dust. It's observed the Sun in nearly all its moods, having been through almost an entire solar magnetic activity cycle (~22 years).

Its hydrazine supply will freeze soon, and it will no longer be able to point its antenna to talk to the Earth. But it will still be out there. Model projections show it remaining in stable resonant orbit between the Sun and Jupiter for decades to come.

Roll on Solar Orbiter!

(Imperial's Space Magnetometer Lab involvement in Ulysses and Solar Orbiter.)
(ESA's tribute to Ulysses)
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-07-02 08:48 (UTC)
I was talking to some of the Imperial chaps last night about Ulysses' orbit, and they said that the models projected it remaining in stable resonant orbit for the next four hundred years.

We reckon in that amount of time, we can figure out how to build spacecraft that will retrieve it and bring it back. That would be so cool.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-07-02 20:45 (UTC)
Never seen it. Must watch!
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