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Interstellar Probe would be a first-of-its-kind voyage beyond the Kuiper Belt, through the boundary of the Sun's giant magnetic bubble in to galactic space. The groundbreaking science of an Interstellar Probe crosses-over disciplinary mission goals.

Artist rendition of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Approximate position of NASA's Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, outside of the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Voyager 1 exited the heliosphere in August 2012. Voyager 2 exited at a different location in November 2018.

The Heliosphere as a Habitable Astrosphere »

What is the global nature of the heliosphere?

How do the Sun and the galaxy affect the dynamics of the heliosphere?

What is the nature of the interstellar medium?

Plowing through interstellar space, the Sun's magnetic field carves a bubble – the heliosphere – shielding our habitable solar system from interstellar plasma and galactic cosmic rays. Its global structure and astrophysical plasma processes remain mysteries solvable only with comprehensive in-situ and remote observations; the same kind of observations that will also help us understand astrospheres around other stars.

Origin and Evolution of Planetary Systems »

How did matter in the solar system originate and evolve?

The creation of our solar system resulted not only in the major planets, but the Kuiper Belt, with over 130 worlds and a dust disk whose large-scale structure remains unknown to us. Flybys and dust measurements from an outbound Interstellar Probe would unlock the secrets of how our solar system evolved, and serve as the unique ground truth for the increasing diversity of other exoplanetary systems and dust disks.

The Universe Beyond the Circumsolar Dust Cloud »

How did galaxies form and evolve?

The diffuse infrared (IR) radiation from all stars and galaxies is an important window to understand their evolution. Because of the foreground IR radiation from our own dust disk (known as the zodiacal cloud), this spectral window has remained closed. IR observations beyond the zodiacal cloud would therefore provide the first clues to early galaxy formation.