Walkthrough of the spacecraft tactile:
As you examine this tactile, proceed to the far right hand side. You will find a key describing the various parts of the spacecraft on the lower right. Some of the parts of the spacecraft are labeled with letters, while others use the texture of the part to help you identify it. Please refer to this key as needed during your exploration of the IBEX spacecraft tactile.
On the upper right is the IBEX mission logo. Artists have used the wordplay between the acronym for Interstellar Boundary Explorer and the animal called the ibex when designing the logo. The ibex animal - a mountain goat with curved horns - is on the left hand side of the logo. Its horns form part of the representation of the boundary of the solar system in the logo. The boundary of our solar system is what the IBEX spacecraft will investigate.
As you explore this tactile from the upper left, you will first encounter a tall, thin object. It is labeled with an "a". This is the antenna of the spacecraft. It transmits data back to earth. Follow the antenna down and you will find that it attaches to the spacecraft at the top. The top of the spacecraft is roughly octagonal shaped. It is covered with solar panels and is riveted together with small, circular rivets. In the center of the top you will notice an hourglass shaped object: the thruster.
The IBEX spacecraft has several thrusters that burn fuel to make small adjustments in the direction the spacecraft is pointing. The spacecraft orbits the Earth, and spins four times per minute to collect data from different parts of the sky.
Visualize the spacecraft as an octagonal box of chocolates. The lid of the box is the top, and the sides of the box contain instruments to collect data.
Once you have explored the top of the spacecraft, move your fingers down to encounter the sides. The sides of the spacecraft are wrapped in a protective blanket that is a little like aluminum foil. 2 sides of the craft are shown in this view.
On the left side of the craft, you will find a semicircular object sticking out from the craft. It is labeled with the letter "c". This is the propellant tank, which fuels the thrusters.
On the lower right side of the craft, you will notice an object with concentric circles. It is labeled "b". This is one of the 2 particle collectors on the craft. At the top of the particle collector is a sunshade. The sunshade keeps the Sun's light from entering the particle collectors. The goal of this mission is to collect particles from the edges of the solar system and send the data back to earth for scientists to analyze. Using this data, scientists will create the first map of the boundary of our solar system, which is created by the solar wind. The solar wind, and this boundary, is described in detail in the audio description of the tactile labeled "Heliosphere".
You can learn more about the IBEX spacecraft and its mission by visiting the IBEX web site at www.ibex.swri.edu