On October 19, NASA will launch the IBEX, or Interstellar Boundary Explorer, into a 210km earth orbit to begin mapping the very edge of our solar system. This region of space, also known by the kick arse scientific name “termination shock,” is rife with mystery. Only the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft have ventured there, but they weren’t armed with the right kind of tech to adequately catalog what’s going on at the point where our solar system meets outer space. IBEX is, and from its orbit around our planet it will beam back some of the first detailed measurements of the region.
Unlike Voyager, IBEX’s payload includes tech tailor made for measuring solar wind and creating a map of the void.
The satellite’s payload will consist of two energetic neutral atom (ENA) imagers, IBEX-Hi and IBEX-Lo. Each of these sensors will consist of a collimator that will limit field of view, a conversion surface to convert neutral hydrogen and oxygen into ions, an electrostatic analyzer to suppress ultraviolet light and select ions of a specific energy range, and a detector to identify particle counts and the identity of each ion. IBEX-Hi will record particle counts at a higher energy band than IBEX-Lo. The payload will also include a Combined Electronics Unit (CEU) that will control the voltages on the collimator and ESA and will read and record data from the particle detectors of each sensor. — Wikipedia