NASA to Discuss Mission to Study Sun's Weakening Protective Bubble

Press Release From: Goddard Space Flight Center
Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2008

GREENBELT, Md. -- NASA will hold a media teleconference on Friday, Oct. 17, at 1 p.m. EDT, to preview the Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, mission. The spacecraft may confirm if the sun's protective bubble surrounding our solar system, called the heliosphere, is about to shrink and weaken. IBEX also will be the first spacecraft to image and map the dynamic interactions taking place where the hot solar wind slams into the cold expanse of space.

The heliosphere acts as a shield for our solar system, warding off most of the galactic cosmic rays. Recent data indicate the solar wind's global pressure is the lowest seen since the beginning of the space age.

IBEX is set to launch Oct. 19 from the Kwajalein Atoll, a part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Panelists will be:

- David McComas, IBEX principal investigator at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio

- Nathan Schwadron, co-investigator and IBEX Science Operations Center lead at Boston University

- Stephen Fuselier, co-investigator and IBEX-Lo Sensor lead at Lockheed-Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif.

- Eric Christian, program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington

Reporters should call 1-888-323-5257 and use the passcode "IBEX" to participate in the teleconference. International media should call 1-415-228-4881. Supporting information for the briefing will be available at the start of the teleconference on the Web at:

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