ISEE-3 Spacecraft Back in Touch After 15 Years

Friday, 30 May 2014 06:25 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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A group of crowd-funded scientists have successfully established contact with the ISEE-3 spacecraft, which has been out of contact since 1999.

The announcement of the group’s successful goal of rebooting ISEE-3 came Thursday, the culmination of a project that began with the desire by a group of scientists to do something that NASA acknowledged it did not have the funds to do, Space College said.

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It was the first time NASA agreed to give control of one of its spacecrafts to a private group, the Daily Mail said.

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project announced on its website that it will be setting up, in cooperation with the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico, a way to remotely command the spacecraft. For it’s announcement that communications were taking place, the project put up a photo of the probe with the words “Hello Again” on it.

“Over the coming days and weeks our team will make an assessment of the spacecraft's overall health and refine the techniques required to fire its engines and bring it back to an orbit near Earth,” the project posted.

"The initial contact was a tone followed by specific commands," project organizer Keith Cowing told NPR by email. "We learned a lot simply by being able to talk to it and get it to do things. May not sound like much but that was a huge unknown.”

The Daily Mail said NASA and scientists with the reboot project all agreed that the data being carried by the probe, which was launched in 1978, will be invaluable to access.

Because of the spacecraft’s age, the reboot project had to use virtual software versions of the hardware that was originally used to communicate with ISEE-3, the Mail said. NASA has supported the project by supplying technical data.

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