NASA Probe Comes Back from the Dead After 27 Years - Update

NASA Probe Comes Back from the Dead After 27 Years - Update

ISEE-3 Probe NASA 310x

ISEE-3 fires its thrusters for the first time since 1987.

Update: The shelf life of ISEE-3's revival might be short-lived, as the Project Reboot team is having trouble firing the probe's primary thruster system. If the system does not come online, the probe has an estimated three month window before it can no longer communicate with Project Reboot's transmitters (larger transmitter could be used, but at exorbitant cost).

The probe's scientific instrumentation can still be used in the meantime, and the team is still going through other contingency plans. It's not looking good, but not all hope is lost. (update information via SpaceNews.com)

Original Story: Remember the ISEE-3, the 1970's-age space probe that NASA handed over to citizen scientists a few months ago?

After 27 years, its thrusters have finally been fired again.

The handover from NASA to the ISEE-3 Reboot Project team has been a success so far, after the latter finally managed to establish a communication link with the aging probe. After three attempts, the team was able to maintain a connection, which was used to increase the probe's spin rate from 19.16 revolutions per minute to 19.76.

The spin adjustment is only an initial correction, with a larger course correction due later this month.

Launched in 1978, the ISEE-3 (International Sun-Earth Explorer 3) last had its thrusters fired in 1987, and was officially retired in 1997. After a successful crowdfunding round of $150,000, the ISEE-3 Reboot Project team (which is part of the Space College non-profit) took control from NASA in May, and has been working on the probe for the last several weeks via the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

After course corrections are complete, the team will focus on evaluating the probe's aging instrument suite.

Source: Scientific American | Image Credit: NASA

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It's remarkable what public initiatives can get set up. That they were able to make contact and control it at all is fantastic.

I'm not 100% sure what this will really accomplish but that we can do this at all is exciting.

This is simply amazing. I can't believe they managed to get it started. Fantastic achievement.

Lightknight:

I'm not 100% sure what this will really accomplish but that we can do this at all is exciting.

Scott Manley had a couple of videos about this. NASA simply didn't have the funding to initiate a recovery program, so it was turned over to the privatized "Reboot Project" who raised the funds that were needed.

They're planning on completing the pre-planned slingshot around the Moon and bringing the ISEE-3 into a parking orbit at L1, between the Earth and the Sun.

From there, they will continue the probe's original mission of conducting experiments and measurements in the field of heliophysics.

http://spacecollege.org/isee3/

Eiv:
This is simply amazing. I can't believe they managed to get it started. Fantastic achievement.

I agree. I can't even park my car for 27 DAYS and expect it to restart, much less 27 YEARS. :)

MinionJoe:

Scott Manley

I'm going to make a rather shameless plug for Scott Manly's Youtube channel. If you enjoy Space related things or Kerbal Space Program Lets Plays you will love it.

Also really glad this preliminary rocket firing worked out for the team. What they are trying to do with ISEE-3 is really interesting.

If only we can put an iphone in there, I'm sure everything would be so much smoother.

Crowd funding success? Seriously humans...

Simply put the US was to busy funding wars on earth to consider exploring space to start wars on other planets.

Hurray for private funded space exploration, because if our governments are anything to go buy they will be to busy fighting for the scraps on earth to realize there's an entire universe out there.

I'm curious as to how long it would take a signal to reach the probe that far out. A couple hours would be my guess at this point.

How much fuel does it have left for course corrections, though?

Well this is good news. If NASA's funding is going to go to poorly planned welfare programs, excessive military spending(thanks Congress, but even the Army said it didn't need more tanks) and politicians' raises while they offer less service to the people and more to the corporations, maybe more private research groups can take over projects NASA doesn't have the people or funding to continue. They sure aren't the ones pioneering cheaper sub-orbital flight.

I wonder how many other projects NASA has collecting dust that still have potential if they just got some interest in them. Maybe we could explore Mars in person in the next 20 years if several research groups examined the different aspects necessary for that venture and shared their knowledge with each other so the one with enough money to do a manned-mission can actually get there.

kiri2tsubasa:
I'm curious as to how long it would take a signal to reach the probe that far out. A couple hours would be my guess at this point.

Going by my recent Wikipedia research the ISEE-3 is planned to move to the Sun-Earth L1 point about 1,500,00 km away from Earth. With the speed of light in vacuum just under 300000km/sec, it would take about 10 seconds to get a reply at that point. Considering the fact its a probe with little propellant, I doubt its current location is too far from that. I think it takes 8 minutes for light to reach us from the Sun. Two hours out would be closer to the distance between Earth and Uranus (or Urectum if Futurama's wisdom is followed) at when they're closest. Space is like, big, man.

Very cool shit. However, other than being an amazing hobby project, I can't really see it doing any actual science shit we didn't already know. I mean, there's not much more you can learn with such old tools, if they even work, when we've got lots of newer and better satellites in orbit.

Denamic:
Very cool shit. However, other than being an amazing hobby project, I can't really see it doing any actual science shit we didn't already know. I mean, there's not much more you can learn with such old tools, if they even work, when we've got lots of newer and better satellites in orbit.

The instruments are still valid and their using it to investigate a comet, not something we've had too many chances to do so even with older hardware there's still a good chance for discovery. As Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager said, "one must leave room for the unexpected".

It's amazing how these old satellites still run and work after all these years. I doubt you'd see such longevity with any satellite made with modern technologies.

Lord Doom:
It's amazing how these old satellites still run and work after all these years. I doubt you'd see such longevity with any satellite made with modern technologies.

Ah, do tell us about your extensive experience with the build quality of modern satellites. It sounds like a fascinating topic.

I hear Sandra Bullock wants to head up there and install a little something on the satellite that she's been working on. Sounds like a good idea, right?

So basically kickstarter has excisted for like 35 years already
and
Apparently probes/satelites have that in common with phones that old stuff works, no matter of age :P
(I do doubt todays satelites have gone the phone-route though)

Even if nothing comes of this, it's freaking cool that they could.

Squilookle:
I hear Sandra Bullock wants to head up there and install a little something on the satellite that she's been working on. Sounds like a good idea, right?

IS she still a medical doctor?

Original story: "check this out guys!"

Update: "nope"

 

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