Ulysses

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• Launch:  8 October 1990

• Orbital insertion:  8 February 1992

• End of mission: 30 June 2009

• Agency: NASA/ESA

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The Ulysses spacecraft was designed as a five-year mission to study the never-before-examined north and south poles of the Sun. Far outliving its planned mission lifetime by 13 years and collecting treasure troves of data on solar wind, interstellar dust and the three-dimensional character of solar radiation, Ulysses became one of the most prolific contributors to knowledge of the solar activity cycle.

The spacecraft also performed a number of technical feats including making an unprecedented gravity assist maneuver at Jupiter to hurl itself out of the elliptic plane and into its solar polar orbit.