This image shows the sunspot numbers rising and falling through September 2000. The solid white line is the mean sunspot number prediction through the year 2006. You can see October 2000 is definitely near solar maximum.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

Ulysses Going Strong During Solar Maximum
News story originally written on November 2, 2000

The Ulysses space probe has begun to investigate the Sun during solar maximum. Ulysses is now observing the South pole of the Sun. Ulysses has passed this way before, but during solar minimum.

"Ulysses has been making continuous observations of the Sun and heliosphere for the last 10 years," said the U.S. project scientist for Ulysses, Dr. Edward Smith. "The scientists involved are still as enthusiastic as ever and are looking forward to discovering lots of new things as the Sun acts up."

Just what does Dr. Smith mean by the Sun acting up? Well, the Sun has an 11 year cycle. There is not a lot of solar activity during solar minimum. But during a solar maximum, there can be lots of activity! There are more sunspots, solar flares, prominences and coronal mass ejections. This activity can cause storms near the Earth that can damage our satellites, confuse animals or create awesome aurora in the sky.

The instruments aboard Ulysses studied the solar wind, the magnetic field of the Sun, the corona, and the the heliosphere during solar minimum. It will now fill in the gaps with data from a solar maximum period.

Last modified October 30, 2000 by Jennifer Bergman.

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