Mission extended for satellite exploring heliosphere



The European Space Agency's (ESA) Science Programme Committee has unanimously approved continuing the operations of the Ulysses spacecraft until March 2009, the agency announced on 16 November. This latest 1-year extension is the fourth for the joint NASA/ESA mission. Richard Marsden, ESA's mission manager and project scientist for Ulysses, said, “No other spacecraft can provide the out-of-ecliptic measurements made by Ulysses. The Sun's activity will soon pick up again, and there are plenty of unsolved questions to tackle.” Among these unsolved questions is an apparent asymmetry in the temperature of the Sun's polar coronal holes that appears to be related to the magnetic polarity, and data acquired by Ulysses may provide insights into this, according to ESA. Ulysses, now in its eighteenth year in space, is part of the Heliospheric Network, an international fleet of spacecraft operating at different locations in the heliosphere and beyond. For more information, visit the Web site: http://www .esa.int/esaSC/SEM3KY53R8F_index_0.html.