Template:Infobox spaceflight

Explorer 33 (also known as AIMP-D or IMP-D) was a spacecraft in the Explorer program launched by NASA on July 1, 1966 on a mission of scientific exploration.


Originally intended for a lunar orbit, mission controllers worried that the spacecraft's trajectory was too fast to guarantee lunar capture.[1] Consequently, mission managers opted for a backup plan of placing the craft into an eccentric Earth orbit with a perigee of 265,679 km and an apogee of 480,762 km — still reaching distances beyond the Moon's orbit.[2]

Despite not attaining the intended lunar orbit, the mission met many of its original goals in exploring solar wind, interplanetary plasma, and solar X-rays.[3] Principal investigator James Van Allen used electron and proton detectors aboard the spacecraft to investigate charged particle and X-ray activity.[4] Astrophysicists N. U. Crooker, Joan Feynman, and J. T. Gosling used data from Explorer 33 to establish relationships between the Earth's magnetic field and the solar wind speed near Earth.[5]

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