November 22, 2017



Ulysses probe was a joint mission of the ESA and NASA which instruments were designed and produced by Europeans and American scientists. Several French laboratories took part in these developments under CNES funding.

Ulysses mission goal was to:

  • Determine the tri-dimentional properties of the heliospheric magnetic field and solar wind;
  • Study the origins of solar wind by the measurement of its composition at various heliographic latitudes;
  • Increase our knowledge of the waves and shocks in solar wind by sampling of the conditions which are different from those that can be measured close to the ecliptic;
  • Increase our knowledge of the process affecting the movement of the galactic and abnormal cosmic rays;
  • Increase our knowledge of the origin of the galactic cosmic rays by the measurement of their isotopic composition;
  • Study the energy level and the movement of the energetic particles of solar and interplanetary origin by the observation of their properties at low and high latitudes;
  • Get more information on the near interstellar space environment by direct measurement of the neutral helium atoms which enter the heliosphere, as well as by deduction of their properties starting from measurements of the interstellar ions;
  • Improve our knowledge of interplanetary and interstellar dust;
  • Search sources of gamma bursts and, starting from simultaneous observations from other satellites, help to identify them compared to the celestial objects already known.

Ulysses probe was equipped with twelve instruments:

  • VHM/FGM: Magnetometer, the LPP (ex-CETP) took part in this instrument.
  • SWOOPS: Solar Wind Plasma experiment, the LPP (ex-CETP) took part in this instrument.
  • SWICS: Solar Wind Ion Composition Instrument.
  • URAP: Unified Radio and Plasma Wave instrument experiment of radio waves and plasma measurement in the internal heliosphere, carried out in co-operation by 4 laboratory: the Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics (LEP) of NASA/GSFC, the LESIA of the Paris Observatory, Minnesota University and the LPP (ex-CETP) at Vélizy.
  • EPAC: Energetic Particle Instrument.
  • GAS: Interstellar Neutral-Gas Experiment.
  • HISCALE: Low-energy Ion and Electron Experiment, the LESIA took part in this experiment.
  • COSPIN: Cosmic Ray and Solar Particle Instrument.
  • GRB: Solar X-ray and Cosmic Gamma-Ray Burst Instrument.
  • DUST: Dust Experiment.
  • SCE: Coronal-Sounding Experiment.
  • GWE: Gravitational Wave Experiment

Ulysses probe was launched by Discovery space shuttle from Cape Canaveral, USA, October 6, 1990.

In 2008, Ulysses was expected to cease functioning due to weakening power. But solid engineering know-how and on-the-fly innovation have eked out an additional year of important science returns, which came to an end on June 30, 2009.


For more information, visit the ESA's "Ulysses Final Archive" website.