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Presented by: Dave McComas Southwest Research Institute San Antonio, Texas on Behalf of the IBEX Science Team. PI: Dave McComas

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PI: Dave McComas

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Presented by: Dave McComas

Southwest Research InstituteSan Antonio, Texas

on Behalf of the IBEX Science Team

PI: Dave McComas

Co-Is: Peter BochslerMaciej BzowskiHans FahrHorst FichtnerPriscilla FrischHerb FunstenSteve FuselierMike GruntmanVlad IzmodenovPaul KnappenbergerMarty LeeStefano LiviDon MitchellEberhard MöbiusTom MooreEd RoelofNathan SchwadronPeter WurzGary Zank

Collaborators:Frederic AllegriniMike CollierGeorge GloecklerDavid Hollenbach Dan ReisenfeldMartin WieserManfred Witte

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The Sun and Local Interstellar Medium (LISM)

Image courtesy of L. Huff/P. Frisch

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Our Heliosphere

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ENA Observations Image the 3-D Heliosphere

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IBEX’s Sole, Focused Science Objective

  • IBEX’s sole, focused science objective is to discover the global interaction between the solar wind and the interstellar medium.

  • IBEX achieves this objective by taking a set of global energetic neutral atom (ENA) images that answer four fundamental science questions:

  • What is the global strength and structure of the termination shock?

  • How are energetic protons accelerated at the termination shock?

  • What are the global properties of the solar wind flow beyond the termination shock and in the heliotail?

  • How does the interstellar flow interact with the heliosphere beyond the heliopause?

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Global ENA Images and Energy Spectra

Predicted ENA distributions near HSp nose for strong (black) and weak (green) TS [Gruntman et al., 2001]. ENAs >1 keV are accelerated inner heliosheath protons based on projecting observed distributions beyond TS.

Extremes of differential ENA fluxes from 0.3-0.6 keV predicted for a strong gas-dynamical TS (top) and a TS weakened by a large pickup ion pressure (bottom) [Gruntman et al., 2001].

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IBEX S/C: Simple Sun-Pointed Spinner

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IBEX Payload

  • IBEX-Hi:

  • Energy range: 0.3-6 keV

  • Team: LANL (Lead), UNH, SwRI

  • IBEX-Lo:

  • Energy range: 0.01-2 keV

  • Team: LMATC (Lead), UNH, GSFC, APL

  • CEU:

  • Provides electronic support and control for payload

  • Developed by SwRI

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Mission Design Maximizes Heliospheric Viewing

Routine Operations

  • Nominal orbit – 37 Re x 7000 km altitude, ~5 days per orbit

  • Sun-pointing spinning S/C (4 rpm)

  • Science Observations > 10 Re

  • Engineering < 10 Re

    • Data download and command upload

    • Adjust spin axis ~5° (Earth’s orbital motion)

  • Nearly full sky viewing each 6 months

Earth’s Magnetosphere

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Integration of IBEX Payload

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Launch Operations

  • Launch operations

    • Standard Pegasus XL

  • Orbit raising

    • STAR-27 Solid Rocket Motor (SRM) burn raises apogee to 37 RE

    • S/C hydrazine system boosts perigee to 7000 km

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Southwest Research Institute: PI Institution

Various Institutions: Science Team

Adler Planetarium: E/PO

Payload Segment

Ground Segment

Spacecraft Segment


OSC: Spacecraft




ATK: Solid Rocket Motor


Lead Institutional Responsibilities

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Broad Science Opportunities

  • Critical new heliospheric observations

  • $2M IBEX-funded GI program

    • NASA peer-reviewed and selected

    • Supports researchers outside of IBEX science team

  • Astrophysical connections

    • Composition of LISM

    • Heliosphere – Astrosphere comparisons  ground truth

    • Team astrophysicists help ensure broad astrophysics connections

  • High sensitivity magnetospheric ENA observations

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Relevant to Exploration: GCR Shielding

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Interstellar Boundary Explorer

Interstellar Boundary Explorer – IBEX

It is time for IBEX’s breakthrough mission of exploration and discovery beyond the planets!

Imaging the Edge of Our Solar System and Beyond

Any Questions?

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