Cosmicopia title

The History of Cosmic Ray Studies

1990 - 1999

ISTP logoSince the 1980s, the collaborative efforts by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) of Japan led to the International Solar-Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) Science Initiative, a set of missions to be carried out during the 1990s and into the next century.

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UlyssesUlysses spacecraft was launched - USA & Europe solar flyby - It is part of an international project to study the poles of the Sun and interstellar space above and below the poles.

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Yohkoh spacecraft launched - Japan/USA/England solar probe - studied high-energy radiation from solar flares.

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Scientists at the University of Utah observed a cosmic ray event with an energy of 3 x 1020 eV. Events with energies of 1020 eV (well above the GZK cut-off) had previously been reported, but this was the most energetic.

SAMPEXThe SAMPEX (Solar Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer) mission was launched. It carries instruments in a polar orbit around the Earth, sampling both interplanetary and magnetospheric particles every orbit. These studies contribute to understanding the process of nucleosynthesis. They allow examination of the history and evolution of the galaxy and the solar system, as reflected in their composition, and aid in understanding the acceleration of particles on a variety of scales.

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IMAX logoThe IMAX (Isotope Matter-Antimatter eXperiment) balloon-borne superconducting magnet spectrometer was launched. It measured galactic cosmic ray abundances of protons, anti-protons, hydrogen, and helium isotopes.

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Outburst of a supernova in the M81 galaxy in Ursa Major.

WindThe Wind spacecraft was launched, as part of the ISTP project, to provide plasma, energetic particle, and magnetic field data on Earth's magnetosphere and solar wind.

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SOHO project posterSOHO (Solar and Helispheric Observatory) spacecraft was launched - Europe/USA solar probe - The observatory is studying the physical processes taking place in the Sun's corona and changes in the Sun's interior by conducting remote sensing observations in visible, ultraviolet and extreme ultraviolet light. SOHO will be put into a "halo orbit"around the L1 libration point, like ACE.

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Physicists at CERN were able to force a positron to stick to an antiproton, creating the first antihydrogen atom.

Design began on the Pierre Auger Project, a new cosmic ray observatory name for the discoverer of air showers. The observatory in Argentina uses a giant array of 1600 detectors to measure air showers from ultra-high energy cosmic rays. Ground was broken in 1999, and cosmic rays were first detected in 2001.

PolarThe Polar spacecraft was launched by NASA from Vandenberg AFB in California on for the start of a planned three-year mission. It performs simultaneous coordinated measurements of the key regions of Earth's space environment with other spacecraft to measure solar wind properties.

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Scientists discovered a "fountain" of antimatter near the the center of the Milky Way

The Mars Global Surveyor space probe entered Mars' orbit and detected a planetary magnetic field.

Scientists using the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft discovered "jet streams" or "rivers" of hot charged plasma flowing beneath the surface of the Sun.

ACE logo
NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft was launched. Real-time data from ACE are incorporated into the daily space weather forecasting system, and NOAA's Space Environment Center uses data from this system to track solar disturbances.

More about ACE...

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TRACE sun mosaic Supernova 1006 (ASCA) 30
Doradus ACE
spacecraft TRACE solar flare IMAGE magnetosphere
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A service of the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA's GSFC

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Curator: Dr Eric R. Christian, NASA
Responsible NASA Official: Dr Eric R. Christian

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This file was last modified: January 11, 2006