Citizen Scientists Successfully Reboot 36 year Old Space Probe


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Michael Watson
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Message 1522689 - Posted: 30 May 2014, 15:35:11 UTC
Last modified: 30 May 2014, 15:37:30 UTC

The International Sun/Earth Explorer satellite ( ISEE 3 ), launched in 1978, has been contacted by radio through the Arecibo dish, and has responded to commands to begin sending diagnostic telemetry. This data will be examined to determine the condition of the space probe.
It is hoped that it will be able to begin again the do space science work. If the ISEE 3 can also respond to commands to fire its rockets, the plan is to break it out of the solar orbit it has been in for many years, and place it in a halo orbit around the L1 point. This is a point in space, about 1 million, 500 thousand kilometers from Earth, in the direction of the Sun, where the gravity of the two balances out. See link below, for more information:
http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/satellites/isee3-update?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A&ieeespectrum&(IEEE+Spectrum)

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Message 1522723 - Posted: 30 May 2014, 17:48:09 UTC - in response to Message 1522689.

The International Sun/Earth Explorer satellite ( ISEE 3 ), launched in 1978, has been contacted by radio through the Arecibo dish, and has responded to commands to begin sending diagnostic telemetry. This data will be examined to determine the condition of the space probe.
It is hoped that it will be able to begin again the do space science work. If the ISEE 3 can also respond to commands to fire its rockets, the plan is to break it out of the solar orbit it has been in for many years, and place it in a halo orbit around the L1 point. This is a point in space, about 1 million, 500 thousand kilometers from Earth, in the direction of the Sun, where the gravity of the two balances out. See link below, for more information:
http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/satellites/isee3-update?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A&ieeespectrum&(IEEE+Spectrum)



A group of space enthusiasts have reportedly made contact with a wayward satellite launched nearly 40 years ago.

Amazing :)
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Message 1522758 - Posted: 30 May 2014, 19:55:04 UTC

WOWEEE! Brilliant stuff :-))

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Message 1522863 - Posted: 31 May 2014, 1:00:07 UTC

This probe has had multiple missions throughout its life, it was repurposed and renamed ICE (International Cometary Explorer). Did NASA shut it down because of funding? I ask because it seems that we still have things to learn with this tool or this private team wouldn't be interested in it, right? I hate how NASA always gets the funding shaft :(

It seems that we have no long-term goals for humanity anymore, unlike it was when we were trying to get to the moon. People then had a vision of a future world that has since been forgotten. I know we have problems on earth that must take precedent but it seems that we get too caught up in them and lose sight of humanity's future 50 or 100 or 1000 years from now. Sorry for the rant but anytime i think of NASA funding i get depressed about our future.

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Message 1523015 - Posted: 31 May 2014, 15:29:59 UTC
Last modified: 31 May 2014, 15:40:49 UTC

The ISEE/ICE space probe, if still operable, can continue to do valuable science. NASA always has to make choices of one mission, or mission extension over another, due to a limited budget. They try to decide how to do the most valuable work with available funds. The private group engaged in reviving the ISEE 3 has the advantage of working with an existing spacecraft, and using 'crowdfunding' to meet its expenses.

NASA's plans for the future include the capture and study of a small asteroid, and a manned mission to Mars. See link, below, for further information on this.
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/about-us/news/2014/may/nasa-suggests-humans-could-be-on-mars-by-2035130933.html

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Message 1523026 - Posted: 31 May 2014, 16:12:32 UTC
Last modified: 31 May 2014, 16:14:06 UTC

Sorry for the rant but anytime i think of NASA funding i get depressed about our future.

I get depressed about NASA full stop! It just seems to me that they have got their aims and objects all screwed up.

At the European Lunar Symposium held at the Museum earlier this month, NASA officials revealed that the Moon could be used as a practice ground for sending humans to Mars within 20 years. NASA’s chief scientist Dr Ellen Stofan and deputy chief technologist Jim Adams told the assembled scientists that putting humans on Mars is NASA’s ‘primary mission’.

No it isn't, they want to go asteroid bagging.

Before taking the plunge and attempting to send people to Mars, and the associated dangers of deep space, NASA plans to use the Moon as an intermediate proving ground, because it is close enough to return astronauts home within a couple of days.

They should be doing that now. They had the shuttles to get people to the ISS, they retired them 5 years early. Moonbase 1 should be there now, and it isn't.

But rather than landing on the lunar surface, the plan is to pull an asteroid close enough to the Moon to allow astronauts to take samples from it. The Asteroid Redirect Mission aims to find a small asteroid travelling between the Moon and Earth and to ‘snag it, bag it and drag it’ into orbit around the Moon where it can be reached by astronauts.

ER WHY?

Robots would perform the capture portion, testing ion propulsion systems - the heavy-duty thrusters that would be needed to get humans and their equipment all the way to Mars.

Any design for robots?

NASA has lost my confidence for the future, sorry but there it is. China will show the way forward.

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Message 1523045 - Posted: 31 May 2014, 17:17:28 UTC

They have been receiving diagnostic and positional data from the ISEE 3 at the phenomenally slow rate of just 512 bits per second. At this rate it will take them several days to get the needed information to proceed. If all goes well, they will eventually transmit commands to fire the probe's rockets, putting it into a halo orbit around L1. They must do this within the next two weeks, or the thrust required will be too great, given the limited fuel on board. In that event, the ISEE 3 would go sailing off again on its solar orbit.
http://www.techtimes.com/articles/7820/20140531/citizen-scientists-make-first-contact-abandoned-nasa-isee-3-spacecraft.htm

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Message 1523063 - Posted: 31 May 2014, 18:38:16 UTC
Last modified: 31 May 2014, 18:38:45 UTC

NASA has a hard time with long term projects mostly because funding is at the mercy of the politicians. For some reason it is hard to convince congress and the public that the money NASA gets is not just wadded up and shot into orbit. It goes to pay very talented people to invent the future. In turn those people spend what they earned to buy houses, cars, food, clothing and etc. Certain members of congress would rather redirect that money to pay for votes via all of the entitlement programs that are out there.
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Message 1523076 - Posted: 31 May 2014, 19:06:57 UTC - in response to Message 1523045.

When it was launched if I could get a reliable duplex data connection at 600 baud over a distance greater than 100 miles on a telephone line, I would have been dancing and singing.

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Message 1523699 - Posted: 2 Jun 2014, 17:29:57 UTC

See the link, below, for the latest details of the ISEE 3 reboot project. A great deal of behind the scenes work is being done to make this project a success.
They experienced a moderate earthquake, while working suspended above the Arecibo dish. They found that the spacecraft is much nearer the trajectory needed for a very near pass by the Moon. This is part of the maneuvering necessary to break the satellite out of solar orbit, and place it in an new orbit near Earth.

They will have to switch from the already very slow communications rate of 512 bits per second to a glacially slow 64 bits, once they leave Arecibo. Routine operations are planned to take place at the 21 meter dish at Morehead State University. This antenna has much lower gain than Arecibo.
http://spacecollege.org/isee3/isee-3-reboot-project-update-bullseye-and-more.html

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Message 1523719 - Posted: 2 Jun 2014, 18:00:43 UTC - in response to Message 1523699.

This is all very good news.
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Message 1524420 - Posted: 4 Jun 2014, 15:48:43 UTC

See article, linked below, for further details on the ISEE 3 reboot project. As I had surmised, when it comes time to make a steering maneuver, the exact timing, including transmission delay due to distance, will have to be put in manually on Earth. The spacecraft will, if all goes as hoped, deliver steering thrust as long as the appropriate actuating key is held down at the control center. The ISEE 3 has no computer, so can not store commands, and execute them later, at a fixed time.
Steering will be accomplished by the release of hydrazine gas, not rockets.
It has apparently still not been decided what mission the ISEE 3 will be used for. They had thought to place it at the L1 point, 1 million, 500 thousand kilometers Sunward from Earth. It was then realized that better, newer probes serving the same purpose are already stationed there.
There is some thought of sending the spacecraft to a passing comet.
They must first manage the perilous maneuver within 50 kilometers or less of the Moon, then behind it, into a power down, and radio blackout phase, and hope that it can be activated and communicated with again, thereafter. Quite a lot to ask of a 36 year old spacecraft!
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/06/scientists-found-a-way-to-save-a-long-lost-spacecraft-now-its-facing-its-biggest-test-yet/372026

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Message 1524662 - Posted: 5 Jun 2014, 6:18:52 UTC - in response to Message 1523719.

This is all very good news.


+1
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Message 1525251 - Posted: 6 Jun 2014, 16:35:18 UTC

Current news on the ISEE 3 reboot project, at the link, below.
The plan, now, is to do the orbit changing maneuver on June 17th. Since they found that the ISEE 3 was on a trajectory that required much less correction than anticipated, the need to perform the maneuver as early as possible was reduced.
They will need to use only a small portion of the available thrust gas. The team has the next 12 days to work out the remaining problems and complexities of reviving a 36 year-old spacecraft.
They are still referring to the maneuver as ESL 1 insertion. This denotes the fact that they still intend to send the space craft into a halo orbit around the Earth/Sun L1 position.
As mentioned above, there are already newer satellites stationed at that position, doing a better job of the work the ISEE 3 could do there. The halo orbit is presumably thought of as a parking position, making the spacecraft available for a new mission, once the goals and details of this can be worked out.
http://www.rockethub.com/42228

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Message 1526067 - Posted: 9 Jun 2014, 15:08:34 UTC
Last modified: 9 Jun 2014, 15:27:08 UTC

Here's an interesting blog on the ISEE 3 reboot mission. It fills in some details not mentioned elsewhere. It explains that the solar orbit of the space probe is similar to that of the Earth. It was possible to inexpensively recreate much of the hardware NASA used to communicate with and control the ISEE 3 using a software-based emulation of that equipment. All 13 instruments on the space probe are receiving power., but there are some indications that not all may be in working order.
http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/2014/20140606-decades-silence-isee.html

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Message 1527756 - Posted: 13 Jun 2014, 19:03:40 UTC

The ISEE 3 reboot project has moved back the date for trying to break the spacecraft out of solar orbit. This is now planned for June 30th through July 2nd.
This delayed schedule became practical when it was discovered that the ISEE 3 was in a more favorable trajectory than expected. Much less fuel would be required for maneuvering into the proposed new orbit, even on a later date.
The project will use the Arecibo antenna in conjunction with some in the NASA Deep Space Network. This will be done between June 18th and 22nd, and on July 3rd, 4th, and 6th.
They hope to get more accurate positional fixes on the spacecraft, both before and after the orbit-changing maneuver. They will use the 34 meter antennas of the Deep Space network, near Goldstone, California; Madrid, Spain; and Canberra, Australia.

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Message 1527772 - Posted: 13 Jun 2014, 19:50:54 UTC

NASA Deep Space Network

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Message 1528608 - Posted: 16 Jun 2014, 15:49:54 UTC
Last modified: 16 Jun 2014, 15:50:57 UTC

The ISEE 3 reboot story made the front page of the Sunday New York Times. See the link, below.
A simple thrust maneuver is tentatively planned for June 21st. They intend to increase the spin rate of the spacecraft, to improve its stability. This is necessary before the orbit changing maneuver. The spin rate seems to have run down a bit in the 36 years since the ISEE 3 was launched.
This maneuver will also serve as the first test of the propulsion system, and of its control by radio, since the reboot project took control of the spacecraft.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/15/science/space/calling-back-a-zombie-ship-from-the-graveyard-of-space.html?_r=2

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Message 1528785 - Posted: 17 Jun 2014, 0:07:33 UTC - in response to Message 1528608.

The ISEE 3 reboot story made the front page of the Sunday New York Times. See the link, below.
A simple thrust maneuver is tentatively planned for June 21st. They intend to increase the spin rate of the spacecraft, to improve its stability. This is necessary before the orbit changing maneuver. The spin rate seems to have run down a bit in the 36 years since the ISEE 3 was launched.
This maneuver will also serve as the first test of the propulsion system, and of its control by radio, since the reboot project took control of the spacecraft.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/15/science/space/calling-back-a-zombie-ship-from-the-graveyard-of-space.html?_r=2


Thanks for the update Michael. Do hope it works out :)

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Message 1530570 - Posted: 21 Jun 2014, 14:30:57 UTC
Last modified: 21 Jun 2014, 14:34:34 UTC

A bit of a setback for the ISEE 3 reboot project. The thruster action to improve the spin stabilization of the spacecraft, set for today, had to be postponed. The reboot team could not confirm that test commands had been properly and consistently received by the ISEE 3. They are currently investigating this problem.
Things had been going so remarkably well, it seems inevitable that some problem would eventually have come up.

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