The Odyssey

Published: Wednesday 31 January 1996

Launched about five years ago, the spacecraft Ulysses has provided valuable information about the sun. Last year, it swung past the sun's south pole and into the ecliptic plane (the plane of the earth's orbit). The fly past provided a unique opportunity to gather information on the heliosphere, one of the most important of which is that the shape of the heliosphere - a vast area of plasma and magnetic fields - is not spherical but more like a peanut, with ballooning edges at the north and south poles and a waist in the ecliptic plane (Science, Vol 270, November 10, 1995).

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