Ulysses (spacecraft)

Ulysses [ julɪsəs ] is an order 11:47:16 UTC launched on October 6, 1990, now abandoned spacecraft of the European Space Agency and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA to study the Sun. Prime contractor for the spacecraft was the German Dornier System GmbH. The probe was in operation until 29 June 2009.


Originally, each an American and a European probe under the working title International Solar Polar Mission ( ISPM ) was planned for the simultaneous investigation of the North and South Poles of the Sun. Due to budget cuts, the NASA probe was canceled in 1981. Therefore, provided the Europeans NASA half of the payload on the Ulysses available - in turn caused those to start on a space shuttle, the radionuclide and the mission of monitoring by the JPL with the Deep Space Network. Therefore, Ulysses is also to be regarded primarily as a European mission - the Americans were only subsequently " brought on board ".

The launch was scheduled for May 1986 with the mission STS -61- F on a Centaur upper stage, but due to the crash of the space shuttle Challenger on 28 January 1986 slipped the start finally on October 6, 1990 and then was charged with the mission STS -41 performed on an IUS / PAM -S upper stage combination.

Ulysses was s exposed at 15.4 km / in their flight path to Jupiter. This high escape velocity was necessary because the Ulysses Jupiter's orbit had to cut at a relatively large angle, so that they could be deflected with a fly-by maneuvers of Jupiter in a polar sun orbit. Thus, it left Earth with the second highest ever achieved by a spacecraft speed. (The current record is held by the spacecraft New Horizons with 16.21 km / s )

The lifetime of the probe was originally designed for a mission of five years, but they far exceeded.

On 29 June 2009 the Ulysses mission was lack of sufficient on-board energy officially ended and the set only to a very limited potential data transfers. The probe orbits the sun continues.

Origin of the name

Ulysses is named after the English word for the Greek hero Odysseus tell. Same is the name with the novel Ulysses by Irish writer James Joyce.



  • Ulysses is one of the outstanding issues in the European space history.
  • The scientific mission of Ulysses includes, among other things, the solar corona, the solar wind, the solar magnetic field, solar plasma waves, cosmic rays, as well as numerous measurements at Jupiter flyby in 1992.
  • Ulysses was the first spacecraft to embarking on a polar sun orbit. She was also with the Jupiter flyby, the first non-American probe in the outer solar system.


  • Size: 3.2 m × 3.3 m × 2.1 m
  • Mass: 366.7 kg; of which 55.1 kg and 33.5 kg Fuel scientific equipment
  • Power Source: Thermoelectric radioisotope generator ( RTG)
  • Features: Measuring instruments for the study of solar wind magnetic field, particle radiation, radio, X-ray and gamma radiation
  • Drive and control: transport into Earth orbit by the Space Shuttle; IUS -PAM -S missiles combination for the start of the orbit; Maneuvering thrusters using hydrazine as a fuel
  • Data transfer: communications equipment and the X-band antennas ( 60 watts) and S-band