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July 2, 1992 (Phone: 202/453-8369) RELEASE: 92-102 SAMPEX TO STUDY MYSTERIES OF SUN AND GALAXIES NASA will launch the Solar Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer (SAMPEX) spacecraft aboard a four-stage Scout rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 10:19 a.m. EDT on Friday, July 3. The launch window lasts 20 minutes. The launch will be carried live on NASA Select Television. "This mission will collect samples of material from the sun and interstellar space that are as revealing to scientists as a rock from the moon," says Dr. David Gilman, NASA Headquarters program manager for the mission. The 348-pound spacecraft is the first of a new series of Explorer missions which will enable scientists to develop less costly astronomy and space science experiments in a shorter period of time. SAMPEX was begun only 3 years ago. The spacecraft has 4 separate instruments designed to measure atoms, ions and subatomic particles coming either from the sun or from the galaxy. Each of the instruments contributes to an understanding of the type of atom or atomic particle, its weight and energy, and the general direction of its travel. Science teams from American and German science organizations comprise the spacecraft investigation team and will be collaborating for the mission's estimated 1-to-3 year lifetime. The data they analyze are expected to contribute new knowledge and improve our understanding of the evolution of our sun and the solar system and to our understanding of the evolution of galaxies. Mission Seeks to Understand Anomalous Cosmic Rays A principal SAMPEX goal is to confirm the origin of what are called anomalous cosmic rays. Anomalous cosmic rays are thought to be particles of the interstellar gas _ the matter which exists in the space between the sun and other stars in

our galaxy. These particles are thought to enter our solar system and are then hit by the sun's solar wind. The spacecraft's peculiar 342-by-419-mile-high elliptical orbit will enable the onboard instruments to use the Earth as a giant magnetic shield. Using the Earth as a shield, the 4 instruments can determine if particles are coming from the sun, from the Milky Way Galaxy, or whether they are the anomalous cosmic rays. The sun produces a cornucopea of particles _ whole atoms, ionized atoms and individual protons, electrons and neutrons _ in its nuclear furnace. Galaxies like the Milky Way produce an equally rich variety of such particles but usually at speeds and energies much higher than those produced by the sun. As the solar wind accelerates the intersteller gas particles, these interstellar particles are boosted in energy to levels where they are comparable to the very high energy particles called cosmic rays. "This will greatly increase our knowledge of the sun and what appears to be the empty space between us and the nearest stars," Gilman said. Gilman says the SAMPEX instruments will collect 20 to 100 times more of this anomalous cosmic ray material than any previous mission. ### NASA Select television is available on Satcom F-2R, Transponder 13, located at 72 degrees west longitude; frequency 3960.0 MHz, audio 6.8 MHz.