What is IBEX's future?
IBEX's main mission is scheduled to last until September 30, 2012. During that time, it will collect data, and maps of the heliosphereThe region around the Sun where the solar wind dominates over the interstellar medium. will be released by the science team about every 6 months. At the end of its primary mission, if the spacecraft is healthy and if NASA's budget permits, then the mission may be extended. Throughout this time, the Sun's activity level may increase, which could push the heliosphere outward and/or change its shape. Because the amount of solar windA stream of charged particles, mostly protons and electrons, that escapes into the Sun's outer atmosphere at high speeds and streams out into the solar system. particles streaming from the Sun depends, in part, on how active the Sun is, scientists are eager to make several sets of maps of the heliosphere, not just one set.