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Ulysses, a joint ESA/NASA mission, was launched aboard the Space Shuttle on 6 October 1990 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, heading for an unprecedented journey of discovery. It was the first mission to study the unknown environment of space above and below the poles of the Sun. With Ulysses, scientists obtained the first-ever four-dimensional map of the heliosphere – the bubble generated by the solar wind that defines the sphere of influence of the Sun.

Originally designed for a lifetime of five years, the mission has surpassed all expectations. The reams of data returned by Ulysses have forever changed the way scientists view the Sun and its effect on the space surrounding it.

After more than 17 years of observations, almost four times its expected lifetime, and having surmounted several operational challenges, Ulysses is now approaching its natural end. Its power supply is unable to keep the spacecraft warm enough, leaving it to succumb to the cold conditions in space.

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