Wow, can an old spacecraft launched in the 1970’s and currently in a heliocentric orbit be contacted and rebooted while passing by the Earth?
Dennis Wingo, president of Moffett Field, California-based Skycorp Inc, Internet publisher Keith Cowing and many donors and volunteers, are going to try do not just that, they are going to try to coax the 70’s era spacecraft into telemetry mode and perhaps get it back into an Earth orbit. We will find out soon, IEEE is passing by right now.
The IEEE-3 spacecraft was launched on 12 August 1978. Originally the mission was cooperative effort between NASA and ESRO/ESA to study the interaction between the Earth’s magnetic field and the solar wind.
On 10 June 1982 IEEE-3 became the International Cometary Explorer with the primary scientific objective of ICE was to study the interaction between the solar wind and a cometary atmosphere. The mission required the spacecraft to leave the Earth/moon system and orbit around the sun instead.
After encounters with comet Giacobini-Zinner in 1985 and the famous Halley’s comet in 1986 and the study of CME’s from the sun in 1991, the “plug” was pulled in the spacecraft on 5 May 1997.
Read all about this incredible effort at Space College: ISEE-3 Reboot Project Status and Schedule for First Contact gives the current status and you can read other posts leading up to now.