The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft recently crossed the termination shock and are currently sending back groundbreaking and detailed observations at two locations in the inner heliosheath. Complementary global observations will soon be provided by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer-IBEX, which measures energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) produced via charge exchange with energetic protons in this region. While several data sets from instruments on other spacecraft have provided tantalizing observations that might be heliosheath ENAs, none has definitively shown that they are observing this source. In contrast, IBEX has been specifically designed and developed to make all-sky observations of inner heliosheath ENAs with very high sensitivity and signal to noise. These observations will provide the critical global perspective required to understand the three-dimensional heliospheric interaction with the Circum-Heliospheric Interstellar Medium (CHISM). This paper, written prior to the launch of IBEX, reviews previous observations and provides background on this important new mission.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- Interstellar interaction