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Preliminary Results of Observations of Comets De Vico and Hyakutake by the Ulysses Comet Watch NetworkCometary interactions with the solar wind allow us to use comets as probes of the inner regions of the heliosphere. During their close passage to the Sun, comets are exposed to different environments depending on their latitude. Until recently, characterizing these environments has been difficult because most spacecraft studying the sun have been confined to studying its mid-latitudes. A valuable source of information about the differing regimes of the solar wind is the joint ESA/NASA ULYSSES mission, which is the first spacecraft to explore the polar regions of the heliosphere. In 1995, ULYSSES' orbit covered a range of solar latitudes from -80 degrees to +80 degrees - an interval referred to as the 'fast latitude scan.' The Ulysses Comet Watch incorporates in-situ measurements during these periods by the ULYSSES spacecraft with images contributed by a world-wide network of observers (both amateur and professional). Bright comets whose paths come within 20 degrees solar latitude of the spacecraft are considered especially good targets for correlation between spacecraft data and plasma tail activity. Ulysses findings of interest to cometary plasma research are: Verification of global differences in solar wind properties (speed and density) at different solar latitudes. At polar latitudes - ranging from roughly +/-30 degrees to +/-80 degrees - the solar wind speed is about 750 kilometers/sec, and has a proton density (1 AU) around 3 cm(exp -3). Changes in properties are small and the heliospheric current sheet (HCS) is not seen. In the equatorial latitudes (roughly +30 to -30 degrees), the average solar wind speed is about 450 kilometers/sec, with an average proton density (at 1 AU) around 9 cm(exp -3). The HCS is seen and changes in properties can be large. An object, spacecraft or comet, at a given latitude, can be entirely in the polar, entirely in the equatorial, or can experience both - sort of a transition region.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Ames Research Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Petersen, C. C.
(Colorado Univ. Boulder, CO United States)
Brandt, J. C.
(Colorado Univ. Boulder, CO United States)
Yi, Y.
(Colorado Univ. Boulder, CO United States)
Date Acquired
August 17, 2013
Publication Date
October 1, 1996
Publication Information
Publication: From Stardust to Planetesimals: Contributed Papers
Subject Category
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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