The SWOOPS ion spectrometer
Los Alamos National Laboratory
SWOOPS Instrument Page
SWOOPS stands for "Solar Wind Observations Over the Poles of the Sun". This experiment onboard Ulysses
is basically making a map of the solar plasma within the heliosphere
. This plasma
that flows from the Sun is often called the solar wind.
You see, the SWOOPS experiment measured the solar plasma as Ulysses flew past Jupiter and it is measuring the
solar plasma in its special orbit around the Sun. This will give us the best 3-D map of the solar plasma (solar wind) within heliosphere that we have ever had!
SWOOPS is actually made up of two instruments,
the ion spectrometer and the electron spectrometer. The ion spectrometer measures the
positive ions within the solar wind and the electron spectrometer measures the electrons within the solar wind.
SWOOPS measurements determine the speed, direction, temperature and density of the solar wind flow.
The most important contribution from SWOOPS is that this instrument is helping us to map the solar wind flow throughout the heliosphere. Disturbances in the solar wind can produce space weather storms that can affect our satellites and our life on
Earth. In order to better understand and predict these space weather events, we need to
understand the Earth's surroundings. SWOOPS is helping us do just that.
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