Presented by: Dave McComas
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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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Presented by: Dave McComas

Southwest Research InstituteSan Antonio, Texas

on Behalf of the IBEX Science Team

PI: Dave McComas

Co-Is: Peter Bochsler Maciej Bzowski Hans Fahr Horst Fichtner Priscilla Frisch Herb Funsten Steve Fuselier Mike Gruntman Vlad Izmodenov Paul Knappenberger Marty Lee Stefano Livi Don Mitchell Eberhard Möbius Tom Moore Ed Roelof Nathan Schwadron Peter Wurz Gary Zank

Collaborators: Frederic Allegrini Mike Collier George Gloeckler David Hollenbach Dan Reisenfeld Martin Wieser Manfred Witte

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The Sun and Local Interstellar Medium (LISM)

Image courtesy of L. Huff/P. Frisch

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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 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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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?