March 2013 Archives

The Value of Saving ISEE-3

Extracting Full Measure from America's Space Investment, Space News

In August 2014, ISEE/ICE will return to Earth's vicinity, guided by laws of celestial motion back to its point of origin. Present evidence is that the spacecraft and most of its subsystems are in good shape. The spacecraft -- last tested very remotely in 2008 -- seems to still be generating plenty of power from its solar panels, and the communications transmitter is strong. What is not known fully is how well the dozen or so scientific instruments onboard might be functioning. But from what we know from other experiences, the chances are quite good that instruments that were functioning well in the 1980s are probably still just fine: They have just been in suspended animation for the past nearly three decades.

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