[FPSPACE] FW: SwRI: IBEX reaches orbit, begins instrument commissioning

LARRY KLAES ljk4 at msn.com
Wed Nov 12 23:31:22 EST 2008




>From: "AAS Press Officer Dr. Steve Maran" <steve.maran at aas.org>
>To: "Steve Maran" <steve.maran at aas.org>
>Subject: SwRI: IBEX reaches orbit, begins instrument commissioning
>Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2008 17:49:17 -0500
>

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THE FOLLOWING RELEASE WAS RECEIVED FROM THE SOUTHWEST RESEARCH
INSTITUTE IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, AND IS FORWARDED FOR YOUR
INFORMATION. (FORWARDING DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT BY THE AMERICAN
ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY.) Steve Maran, American Astronomical Society:
steve.maran at aas.org, 1-202-328-2010 x116.

Contact:
Maria Martinez
1-210-522-3305
mmartinez at swri.org

IBEX spacecraft reaches orbit, begins instrument commissioning

November 12, 2008 -- San Antonio -- Just over three weeks since its
Oct. 19 launch, NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX)
spacecraft -- the first mission designed to image the interaction at
the edge of the solar system -- concluded its orbit-raising phase and
is beginning instrument commissioning in preparation to start science
observations.

After its launch to low Earth orbit (about 140 miles) onboard a
Pegasus rocket, the spacecraft used its own solid rocket motor and
hydrazine propulsion system to perform a series of burns that
ultimately raised its apogee (furthest point from Earth) to about
200,000 miles and its perigee (closest point) to about 8,000 miles
above the Earth -- an orbit ideal for its science mission.

"Because the orbit goes so far out -- about five-sixths of the way to
the Moon -- it gets pushed around significantly by lunar gravity and
evolves over time in altitude and inclination," said IBEX Principal
Investigator Dr. David McComas, senior executive director of the Space
Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute.
"We're now in an orbit that provides excellent science viewing and no
long eclipses for at least the next two to three years, without the
need for additional burn maneuvers."

Before the science investigation begins, the IBEX team will commission
those spacecraft subsystems that weren't needed for the orbit-raising
period as well as the two IBEX science instruments. During
commissioning, the spacecraft spin rate will be reduced from 23 rpm to
4 rpm and pointed toward the Sun. At that point, the remaining
subsystems and instruments will be turned on and tuned to ensure
optimum mission performance.

When it begins its science observations in early December, IBEX will
use energetic neutral atom imaging to create the first-ever all-sky
maps of the interactions between the million mile-per-hour solar wind
blown out by the Sun and the low-density material between the stars,
known as the interstellar medium. The spacecraft will complete an
allsky map of the interstellar boundaries every six months.

IBEX is the latest in NASA's series of low-cost, rapidly developed
Small Explorers spacecraft. SwRI leads the IBEX mission that includes
a team of national and international partners. The NASA Goddard Space
Flight Center manages the Explorers Program for the Science Mission
Directorate in Washington.

Editors: For more information on the IBEX mission, visit
http://www.ibex.swri.edu or http://www.nasa.gov/ibex
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