March 2014 Archives

Budget Pressure and Keeping Older Missions Alive

NASA missions bid for extensions, Nature

"... like six other ongoing NASA missions studying the Moon, Mars and Saturn, Opportunity's money is due to run out at the end of the US fiscal year, on 30 September. Managers for each mission are trying to convince the agency to cough up continued funding, and their arguments are due on 11 April. A 'senior review' panel of external planetary scientists will rank the proposals' potential science return, and submit their suggestions to NASA headquarters for a final decision."

Allen Telescope Array Detects ISEE-3 Transmitters

ICE Spacecraft Signal Detection from the Allen Telescope Array, CosmicDiary

"The ICE spacecraft (see below) has recently approached Earth close enough to be detectable at the Allen Telescope Array (ATA). We have successfully detected the ICE spacecraft carrier signal using the SonATA (SETI on the ATA) signal detection equipment and will share the details here."

Listening for ISEE-3

ICE/ISEE-3 update: Amateurs detect its signal while professionals study contacting it, Planetary Society

"Since the last time I reported on ICE/ISEE-3, there have been several developments. As a reminder, ISEE-3 was launched in 1978 to study Earth's magnetosphere and repurposed in 1983 to study two comets. Renamed the International Cometary Explorer (ICE), it has been in a heliocentric orbit since then, traveling just slightly faster than Earth. It's finally catching up to us from behind, and will return to Earth in August. It's still functioning, broadcasting a carrier signal that the Deep Space Network successfully detected in 2008. If we command the spacecraft to fire its engines at the appropriate moment -- something that must happen within the next few months -- we can recapture it into a halo orbit at the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian point."

Reawakening An Old Friend

Space Thief Or Hero? One Man's Quest To Reawaken An Old Friend, NPR

"More than 30 years ago, Robert Farquhar stole a spacecraft. Now he's trying to give it back. The green satellite, covered with solar panels, is hurtling back toward the general vicinity of Earth, after nearly three decades of traveling in a large, looping orbit around the sun. If Farquhar, a former mission design specialist for NASA, gets his way, the agency will command the spacecraft to fire its thrusters, veer close to the moon, and slip back into the spot where it was intended to be when it was launched in 1978 -- and where it was when Farquhar and his accomplices "borrowed" it."

ISEE-3 References

ISEE-3, Wikipedia

The International Cometary Explorer (ICE) spacecraft was originally known as International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) satellite, launched August 12, 1978. It was part of the ISEE (International Sun-Earth Explorer) international cooperative program between NASA and ESRO/ESA to study the interaction between the Earth's magnetic field and the solar wind. The program used three spacecraft, a mother/daughter pair (ISEE-1 and ISEE-2) and a Heliocentric orbit spacecraft (ISEE-3, later renamed ICE). ISEE-3 was the first spacecraft to be placed in a halo orbit at one of Earth-Sun Lagrangian points (L1). It was later (as ICE) sent to visit Comet Giacobini-Zinner and became the first spacecraft to do so by flying through a comet's tail passing the nucleus at a distance of approximately 7800 km.[1] ICE was not equipped with cameras.

International Earth-Sun Explorer-3, NASA

An update to the ICE mission was approved by NASA headquarters in 1991. It defines a Heliospheric mission for ICE consisting of investigations of coronal mass ejections in coordination with ground-based observations, continued cosmic ray studies, and special period observations such as when ICE and Ulysses are on the same solar radial line. By May 1995 ICE was being operated with only a low duty cycle, with some support being provided by the Ulysses project for data analysis. Two years later, termination of operations of ICE/ISEE3 was authorized May 5, 1997. As of January 1990, ICE was in a 355 day heliocentric orbit with an aphelion of 1.03 AU, a perihelion of 0.93 AU and an inclination of 0.1 degree. This will bring it back to the vicinity of the earth-moon system in August, 2014

ISEE-3/ICE, NASA

ISEE-3, NASA

AMSAT-DL and Bochum Observatory Detect ISEE-3 Transmitters

AMSAT-DL and Bochum Observatory receive signal from retired NASA spacecraft, AMSAT-DL

"On March 1st and 2nd, 2014 radio amateurs were able to detect the beacon signal from the retired NASA deep space probe ICE (International Cometary Explorer) at the Bochum Observatory (Germany). After some changes to the ground equipment and aligning the receive antenna to the predicted position in the sky, the beacon signal could positively be identified due to its frequency, the position in the sky and the frequency shift due to the radial velocity (Doppler shift)."

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