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NASA Facts Interplanetary Explorer Satellites

NASA Facts Interplanetary Explorer Satellites

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Apr 02, 2011
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04/02/2011

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Vol.
II,
No. 1
Page
1
NASA
FACTS
NASA
FACTS
Number
Volume
I
of
NASA
FACTS
consists
ofall
issues
pub
lished
priorto July
1964
andrunning from
A-62
to
8-2-64
.
Volume
II
begins
with
NASA
FACTS,
Inter
planetary
Explorer
Satellites
,
Vol
.
II
,
No
.1
.
An
Educational
Services
Publication oftheNational
Aeronautics
and
Space
Administrat
ion
INTERPLANETARY
EXPLORER
.
SATELLITES
N64-2871!
{ ) . i t ~ / 
~
J
Interplanetary Explorer satellite(Explorer
XVIII)
in
space(artist's
conception). InterplanetaryExplorers
formerly
were
calledInterplanetary
Monitoring
Platforms
(IMP).
Before
man
can
travel
to
other
celestial bodies,he must solvemysteries
about
space
which
have
defied
centuries
of
observation.
A
significant
step
toward
this
goal
is
being
made through
aseries
of
satellites
called
Interplanetary
Explorers,
the
first
of
which, Explorer
XVIII,
waslaunched
November
26,1963.Interplanetary
Explorers
areaimed
primarily
at
acquiring
additional
knowledge
about
radia-
tion and
magnetic
fields
in
space
between
the
earth and
moonduring
a
majo
r
part
of
thesolarcycle.
The
solar
cycle
refers
to
a
period
of
ap
proximately
11
years
during
whichthefrequency
of
solareruptions
reaches
a
maximum,
a
mini·mum,
and
then
again,
a
maximum.
As
their name
implies,
Interplanetary
Explorers
are designed
principallytogatherinformation
on
conditions
in
interplanetary
space, which
begins
 
Page
2
NASA
FACTS
Vol.
II, No. 1
Explorer
XVIII
is
prepared
for
test
of
its
ability
to
withstandvibration
.
Deltarocketvehicle
launches
Explorer
XVIII.
This was
the
twentieth straight time
that
the
Deltavehicle
had
performed
as
planned
.
at
the
outer
border
of
earth'smagnetic
field.
The
satellites
contain arrays
of
instrumentsfor
acquiring
and transmitting
detailed data
about
the
solar
'
wind and
cosmic rays
(both
defined
be-
low),
an
.d
magnetic
fields.
Such
information
is
essential
todesign
of
protective shielding
and
communications
systems
formanned spacecraftjourneyingto
the
moon
and
beyond.
The
data
also
are expected to
con
tribute
to
development
of
techniques
for
fore
casting
solar
flares-sudden
outbursts
of
matter
from
the
sun's
surface-that
shower
space
with
lethal
radiation.
Lunar
journeys
couldthen
be
timed
toavoid
these
dangerous periods.
 
NASA
FACTS
Vol. II,
No
.1
Engineersinstall
nose
cone
around
Explorer
XVIII
prior
to
launch.
THE
SOLAR
WIND AND
MA(;NETIC
FIELDS
Traveling
above
the
earth's
magnetic field,
In-
terplanetary
Explorers
measure
the
solar
wind,which
is
made
up
of
hot
electrified
gases
that
rush
constantlyfrom
the
turbulent
surface
of
thesun. Its
strengthdepends
upon
the level
of
solaractivity.However,
the
solar
wind
is less
substantial than
winds on
earth,
consisting
of
a
relatively
scant
10
to
20
atomic particles (chiefly
protons
of
hydrogen
atoms) per
cubic inch
as
compared
withearth
winds. Nevertheless,
the
wind appears to
be
a
dominant
feature
of
inter
planetary
space.
Results
from
NASA's
Mariner
"
spacecraft,
coupled
with
other
observations and
assump
tions,
indicatethat
the
wind
pulls
with
it
parts
of
the
sun's
magnetic field anddistributes
these
throughout
the
solar
system
wherethey
become
interplanetary
magnetic
fields.
Page 3
Moreover,
other evidence,
particularly
thatprovided by
artificial
satellites,
ind
i
cates
that
the
solarwind
compresses
earth'smagneticfieldtoan
approximately
40,OOO-mile
altitude
on
the
sunny
side
and
stretches
orblows
it
out to
as
yetundefined
limits on the
night
side
.
As
a re-
sult
of
these
findings
and
carefu
l
analyses,
scien-tists
presume
that
the
earth's
magneticfield
is
shaped like
a
tear
drop
with
the
portion
of
the
magnetic field
on
earth's
night
side
trailing
our
planet
like
the
tail
of
a
comet.
Interplanetary
Explorers
areexpected
to
shed
new
light
on
the
limits
of
earth's
magnetic
field
and
on
the
interplay
between earth's
and
inter
-
planetary
magnetic
fields
and
the
solar wind.
COSMIC RAYS
Cosmicrays,the
most
penetrating
kind of
harmful radiation
known,pose
a
majordangerto
man
in
interplanetary
space.They
consist
of
protons
(nuclei
of
hydrogen
atoms),
alpha
particles
(nuclei
of
heliumatoms),
nuclei
of
atomsheavierthanhydrogenor
helium,
and
electrons.
Energies
of
cosmic
rays
may
be
millions
of
times
greater
than
the energies
of
particles in
the
solar wind. Solar wind
particleshave
energiesin
the
hundreds
and
thousands
of
electron
volts.(The ele
ctron
volt
is a
scientific
measurement
unit
for
comparing
energies
of
atomic
particles
.The
electron
volt
is
a
tiny unit
of
energy.
As an
exa
mple,
it
would
take the
equivalent
of
550
sextillion-55
followed
by 22zeros-electron
volts
to
keep
a
25-watt
lightbulb burning
for
an
hour.)
Characteristic energies
of
cosmic
raysemitted
by
the
sun,
usually
in
conjunctionwith
a
solar
flare,
are
about
one
hundred
million
electron
NASA's
Delta
launch vehicle
attained
Its
twentieth
consecutive
success with
the
launchof Explorer
XVIII.
Delta
has also
been
used
in
launching
communications
satellites
including
Echo,
Relay, Syncom
,
and
Telstar;
the
TlROS
series
ofmeteorologicalsatellites;
and
scien-
tific
satellites
including
the
Orbiting
Solar Observatory,Explorers
XII, XIV,
XV,
and
XVII,
and
Ariel,
the
world's
first
international satellite
(built
by
the
United
Kingdom
and the
United
States).

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