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News archive

During solar maximum, when the Sun's activity is at a peak in its 11 year cycle, the polarity of its magnetic field changes: the north pole takes on the polarity of the south pole and vice versa. Now, for the first time ever, a spacecraft has witnessed this process from a front-row seat high above the Sun's south pole.
Published: 25 January 2001
Eberhard T. Gr|n, principal investigator for the Ulysses DUST experiment, has been elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union for his work with dust detectors on several interplanetary missions. Using results gathered by the Ulysses DUST detector, Gr|n and his colleagues at the Max-Planck-Institut f|r Kernphysik in Heidelberg, Germany, were the first to identify interstellar dust deep within the solar system.
Published: 13 December 2000
Special operations began on Friday 1 December to keep Ulysses communicating with Earth over the next year when the spacecraft is closest to the Sun during the short leg of its orbit.
Published: 6 December 2000
Today (27 November), Ulysses becomes the first space probe to fly over the south pole of the Sun twice. The European spacecraft has reached a maximum latitude of 80.1 degrees south. The international teams of scientists working with the mission are raising their glasses to toast the intrepid solar explorer only weeks after celebrating the 10th anniversary of its launch.
Published: 26 November 2000
Ulysses has helped to set another record. On 31 January this year, the intrepid spacecraft detected the most distant gamma-ray burst ever recorded.Other spacecraft also picked up the burst, enabling astronomers to estimate its position in the sky using triangulation methods. A message was sent to ground-based telescopes and shortly afterwards the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile identified the optical counterpart - a rapidly-fading source of visible light in the southern constellation of Carina.
Published: 19 October 2000
On 6 October 1990, the Ulysses spacecraft was launched. Today, ten years later, the international band of scientists attending the 34th ESLAB symposium are concluding proceedings with their sense of excitement and eager anticipation undimmed. The meeting has heard of numerous observations, made over recent months, that are leading to new insights about the behaviour of the Sun and the heliosphere at solar maximum. Many speakers have looked forward to further observations over the next four years as the solar cycle returns to minimum.
Published: 6 October 2000
Many new and tantalising results were discussed yesterday, during the third day of the 34th ESLAB symposium on the 3D heliosphere at solar maximum. Here is a selection:
Published: 5 October 2000
Its really exciting how different the solar wind is this time compared with the first orbit, David McComas from the Los Alamos National Laboratory told the 34th ESLAB symposium on the heliosphere yesterday morning. His observation was repeated by many of the speakers: however you look at the solar wind or corona, theres evidence of far more solar activity now than during Ulysses first south polar passage in 1994.
Published: 5 October 2000
If the Voyager spacecraft are ever to cross the heliospheres boundary, they will probably do so within the next year or two before the effects of this years solar maximum cause the heliosphere to expand. Ed Stone from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California, told an international gathering of solar scientists yesterday afternoon, that the two spacecraft are now probably closer to the boundary, which estimates put at 80-115 Astronomical Units (AU) from the Sun, than the 16 AU distance between them.
Published: 4 October 2000
As the Ulysses spacecraft hurtles through space towards the Suns south pole, more than 100 scientists from 16 countries will be speeding their way through airspace next week towards ESTEC, ESAs technical centre near Amsterdam. They will converge to discuss the very latest results from the intrepid spacecraft.
Published: 29 September 2000
ESA Press Release N0 55-2000.Just as solar storms are brewing, the European-built space probe, Ulysses, is venturing over the Sun's south pole for the second time in its 10-year life. The intrepid spacecraft will pass 70 degrees south on 8 September, shortly before the Sun's 11-year activity cycle is due to peak. Solar storms are already numerous and the high latitude solar windwind (the stream of charged particles blowing away from the Sun) is chaotic and blustery.
Published: 6 September 2000
The European Space Agency has agreed to fund the Ulysses mission for an extra 2 years 9 months. At its meeting in Paris on 5-6 June, ESA's Science Programme Committee approved the funds to continue operating the spacecraft from the end of 2001 to 30 September 2004.
Published: 14 June 2000
The European Space Agency has agreed to fund the Ulysses mission for an extra 2 years and 9 months. At its meeting in Paris on 5-6 June, ESA's Science Programme Committee approved the funds to continue operating the spacecraft from the end of 2001 to 30 September 2004.
Published: 13 June 2000
Ulysses, the joint ESA/NASA spacecraft, has added comet spotter to its list of talents. Two papers published in Nature today report that on 1 May 1996, the spacecraft flew through the tail of comet Hyakutake whose nucleus was more than 3.5AU (one AU equals the Sun-Earth distance) away at the time "This makes it the longest comet tail ever recorded", says Geraint Jones from Imperial College, London who is a member of one of the two instrument teams that made the discovery.
Published: 6 April 2000
Ulysses, the joint ESA/NASA spacecraft to explore the region of space above the Sun's poles, is poised on the edge of new discoveries as it prepares to pass over the poles of the Sun for the second time in its ten year lifetime. The first passage occurred at solar minimum, a time of low solar activity. But the second will occur at solar maximum when the Sun is at its most turbulent. New findings are expected about the effects of this turbulence on the heliosphere, the vast volume of space that engulfs all the planets and over which the Sun exerts its influence.
Published: 6 February 2000
The force of sunlight is keeping part of our solar system dust free - at least free from a particular type of dust. Markus Landgraf, now working at ESA's operations centre ESOC in Germany and his international team of colleagues, made this discovery after poring over data collected by the dust detector on board the Ulysses spacecraft. In a paper published in Science today, they show how their findings lend support to the view that our solar system is moving through a cloud of dust and gas that is made of the same stuff as interstellar clouds observed elsewhere in our galaxy.
Published: 17 December 1999
New evidence that gravity waves originating in the Suns core may leave their imprint in the solar wind was presented to last months meeting of the Ulysses science working team.
Published: 25 November 1999
The strength of the Sun's magnetic field has doubled during the 20thCentury, according to calculations by British scientists. This findingwill help to clarify the Sun's contribution to climate change on theEarth. A team at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford has beenable to work out the recent history of the Sun's magnetic behaviour,thanks to the unprecedented overview of solar magnetism provided by theESA-NASA spacecraft Ulysses.
Published: 3 June 1999
In addition to its well-known role as explorer of the region of space above the poles of our star the Sun, ESA's Ulysses spacecraft has provided scientists with a glimpse of conditions in the distant reaches of space beyond the boundary of the heliosphere. Instruments on board the out-of-ecliptic pathfinder are making unique measurements of dust particles and gas from the cloud of interstellar material surrounding the heliosphere, allowing scientists to learn more about the history of our solar system. These and other results from the Ulysses mission, now in its ninth year of highly successful operations, are featured in an article by the ESA project scientist, Richard Marsden, in the June issue of the popular astronomy magazine, Astronomy Now.
Published: 21 May 1999
More than 50 scientists met at the European Space Research and TechnologyCentre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, Netherlands, on 14, 15 and 16 April to discuss the latest scientific results to come from the Ulysses out-of-eclipticmission.
Published: 20 April 1999
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