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IBEX Mission Overview


IBEX: Exploring The Edge of Our Solar System

Jump into the secrets of our Solar System and discover more about how the heliosphere protects life on Earth and explorers in space. This short video will answer different questions about the IBEX mission and will help you learn more about the edge of our Solar System.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Also available on YouTube.


Launchpad: Mapping the Boundaries of Our Solar System

What is the shape of our heliosphere and what lies beyond? How does interstellar medium affect the heliosphere? To find out, NASA launched the Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, to map out the boundaries of our solar system.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center


IBEX: What are the Boundaries of our Solar System?

There are several boundaries at the edge of our solar system. The IBEX mission will study these boundaries to help us understand how they protect life on Earth and astronauts in space from the galactic cosmic rays coming from interstellar space. In this video you will find out what the boundaries of our solar system are.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Also available on YouTube.


IBEX Mission Video 2008

PI Dave McComas explains the ideas behind the IBEX mission, describes the building and testing of the mission and invites you stay up to date on the mission's progress.

Credit: The IBEX Team/Southwest Research Institute


IBEX: A Global Imager Of Our Solar System's Boundaries

IBEX is a NASA mission that will, for the first time, take a picture of the edge of our solar system. This video explains the way IBEX will create a global map of the boundaries of our solar system.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Also available on Youtube.


IBEX Orbit Visualization

Note: The link will take you away from the IBEX mission website to the NASA website. This is a computer animation of the orbit of the IBEX spacecraft. The IBEX spacecraft spins 4 times each minute and orbits Earth every 7.5 days. At its farthest point, the spacecraft is about 200,000 miles (360,000 kilometers) from Earth. In this animation, IBEX’s orbit is colored green and the Moon’s orbit is gray. Note: This visualization is not to scale. The IBEX spacecraft is only about 1 meter in diameter.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center


Journey To the Heliopause

Note: The link will take you away from the IBEX mission website to the NASA website. This computer animation begins at the Sun and pulls back to reveal elements of our "heliosphere". Our Solar System resides in a "bubble", called the "heliosphere". This bubble is inflated from the inside as charged particles from the Sun, called the "solar wind", flow outward. Far from the Sun, the solar wind particles interact with particles located between the stars, called the "interstellar medium". This interaction forms the boundary of our Solar System. IBEX was designed to orbit Earth and study this distant boundary.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Testing IBEX


Motorized Lightband Separation Test Video

In mid–2007, the IBEX team tested the Motorized Lightbands (MLBs), which were used to separate different components of the IBEX launch system. This video clip shows the test of the lightband used to separate the adapter cone from the solid rocket motor.

Credit: Planetary Systems Corporation


Solid Rocket Motor Test Video

On September 26, 2007, the IBEX team fired the solid rocket motor test unit to evaluate its performance.

Credit: ATK Corporation


IBEX Spin Balance Test Video

One of the first tests — spin balance — is shown in the brief video clip. In this 2007 test, the full spacecraft was spun at rates up to 70 spins per minute! The team spun the spacecraft both in air and in a Helium tent (shown in the video) to simulate the vacuum environment of space (helium is only 14% as dense as air). Once the initial spinning was done, the team added small balance masses, very much like the auto shop does when they balance tires on a car.

Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation

IBEX Launch


IBEX Launch and Deployment Animation

Note: The link will take you away from the IBEX mission website to the NASA website. This is a computer animation of the launch of the IBEX spacecraft. The IBEX team designed a brand new concept for placing a small spacecraft into a high–altitude orbit. First, a Pegasus rocket dropped from an L–1011 airplane was used to deliver IBEX to an orbit around 120 miles (200 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface. Then, a smaller solid rocket motor fired several times to raise the lowest point of IBEX’s orbit to around 5,000 miles (8000 kilometers) and the highest point to around 200,000 miles (320,000 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center


IBEX Mission Launch Video – October 19, 2008

Note: The link will take you away from the IBEX mission website to the NASA website. This is actual launch audio and video from the IBEX mission launch on October 19, 2008. IBEX launched from Kwajalein Island, Marshall Islands, in the south Pacific Ocean. An L–1011 airplane took the Pegasus rocket carrying the IBEX spacecraft to a high altitude. Then, the rocket dropped and the Pegasus fired its own rockets to propel it and IBEX into space. The web page linked above has live launch audio and video from NASA–TV recorded during the launch. To view the video, click "View Now" after you go to the page. The rocket can be seen as it dropped, then a graphic display of the L–1011 airplane’s trajectory is shown, followed by video of the rocket’s bright exhaust as it sped away. The page also contains a transcript of the audio clip.

Credit: NASA

IBEX Mission and Science Updates


IBEX Mission Update

NASA explains how the IBEX mission and its revolutionary technology will help us understand the heliosphere and how it helps protect us from dangerous galactic cosmic rays.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center


NASA IBEX Science Update – October 2009

In October 2009, the IBEX mission team released its first heliospheric results and sky maps. The video shows NASA’s Science Update for the IBEX mission, recorded at NASA Headquarters on October 15, 2009 and broadcast live on NASA–TV. The results chronicle the remarkable discovery of a bright, narrow band of energetic neutral atom emissions that was totally unpredicted by any previous theories or models. The ribbon appears to be ordered by the external magnetic field in the interstellar medium, which imprints our heliosphere in a very strong, but not yet understood, way. In addition, the IBEX team has published the first ever direct detection of interstellar neutral hydrogen and oxygen, drifting into the heliosphere from the interstellar medium. Together, these truly remarkable observations show just how little we currently understand about the outer reaches of our heliosphere and our place in the galaxy, and just how much our Small Explorer mission—IBEX—has to teach us.

Credit: NASA

NASA Principal Investigator: Dave McComas
E/PO Lead: Lindsay Bartolone
Webmasters: Wendy Mills & Georgina Avalos
Last Updated: 13 February 2014
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