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Los Angeles, CA (AP) —

NASA has launched an unmanned space probe to study the fringes of the solar system.

The Ibex spacecraft will spend two years mapping a region of space where hot solar winds collide with the cold gases of interstellar space. The region helps shield the Earth from deadly cosmic radiation.

On Sunday, an aircraft mated to a Pegasus rocket took off from a Pacific atoll and released it at 40,000 feet. The rocket then lofted Ibex into orbit.

Within several weeks, Ibex will boost itself even higher, eventually circling 200,000 miles above Earth, beyond the planet’s magnetic field.

The $165 million effort is led by the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

Source: San Franscisco Chronicle