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N° 25–1994: Ulysses(*) reaches the South Pole of the Sun

30 August 1994

After almost four years, an exploratory voyage crossing regions of the cosmos never before visited by spacecraft is approaching its climax. On 13 September 1994, ESA's Ulysses spaceprobe will reach a point less than 10 degrees from the Sun's south pole.

One of the many investigations being carried out is a search for the Sun's south magnetic pole. As in the case of the Earth, the magnetic pole is offset from the rotation axis, and at some time in September it should sweep directly into line with Ulysses.

Just as the polar regions of the Earth were the last to be explored, so it is with the Sun. For more than thirty years spacecraft have investigated the stream of electric particles know as the solar wind. Ulysses, developed by ESA, built by European Industry and flown in collaboration with NASA, is the first to fly through the solar wind coming from the poles.

As Ulysses reaches its highest solar latitude of 80.2 degrees on 13 September, European and American researchers will gather at the ESA/ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, for a scientific workshop at which they will assess the results from the nine experiments carried by the spacecraft.

For the week of the workshop, the ESA/ESTEC conference centre will be transformed into a busy scientific laboratory. The large meeting rooms will be divided into 24 working areas, where the Ulysses experiment teams will take up temporary residence. Bringing a variety of computing equipment with them, the scientists will be able to retrieve the latest data from the spacecraft and perform detailed analyses. The emphasis will be on informality, with exchange of scientific ideas - and data - the key ingredient, leading ultimately to a better understanding of the fascinating information being gathered by Ulysses on its unique exploratory journey.

Presentations to the media at ESA/ESTEC will start at 10h00 on 16 September. Media representatives wishing to attend are kindly requested to fill out the attached form and return it - preferably by fax (+33.1.42.73.76.90) - to :
ESA Public Relations Division, 8/10, rue Mario Nikis - 75015-PARIS.

Note to Television Editors :
A video index, containing extensive background material on the Ulysses voyage (including specially created 3-D animation), is available on Betacam SP together with a VHS time-coded copy and printed information. This package is available on request.

On Thursday 15 and Friday 16 September video news releases explaining this memorable event will be distributed by Reuters London via satellite to all European broadcasters.

(*) Ulysses is a joint ESA/NASA mission. ESA developed the probe and is contributing an estimated ECU 170 million up to 1995 to its in-flight operation. European research laboratories provided half of the scientific instruments. NASA provided the other half of the experiments flown, a radio-isotopic power generator and the launch; it is also maintaining day-to-day communications with the probe via its dedicated antennas.


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