The International Sun Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) was launched in 1978 as part of a trio of spacecraft to measure space weather in the vicinity of Earth. When its original mission was completed some enterprising NASA engineers and scientists put ISEE-3 on a course to make the first close encounter with a comet. Later ISEE-3 was left to pursue its own path around the sun in perpetuity. With the exception of a few intermittent listening sessions over the decades ISEE-3 faded into history.

By March 2014 several observatories detected a signal from ISEE-3 after the last spacecraft commands left everything “on”. Communicating with ISEE-3 was going to be a challenge since the hardware no longer existed, the command codes were lost, and the expertise was no where to be found. But the ISEE-3 spacecraft is now under the control of ISEE-3 Reboot Project, a private team of brilliant engineers who took control of the probe earlier this year under an agreement with NASA. The team initially hoped to move the NASA probe into a stable orbit near the Earth, but attempts failed when the team discovered that the spacecraft was out of the nitrogen pressurant needed to fire its rocket engines.

Now, ISEE-3 Reboot Project engineers are focusing their efforts on an interplanetary science mission, as some of the probe’s 13 instruments are still working. By using a network of individual radio dishes across the world, the team will listen to the ISEE-3 spacecraft for most of its orbit around the sun.

You can view live spacecraft data at the site SpacecraftForAll.com . The new website, developed by Google Creative Lab in collaboration with the ISEE-3 Reboot Project team, features a history of the ISEE-3 mission as well as a presentation of data currently being received from ISEE-3.

To learn more about the ISEE-3 Reboot Project, visit: http://spacecollege.org/isee3.

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: ISEE-3 Reboot Project

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