Source: Space Explorer Changes Course - Probe Could Be Retrieved, UPI, Apr 9, 1986. Note: contrary to his prediction, this time Bob Farquhar was wrong: he is most certainly here - and helping bring ISEE-3/ICE back.
Source: Space Explorer Changes Course - Probe Could Be Retrieved, UPI, Apr 9, 1986. Note: contrary to his prediction, this time Bob Farquhar was wrong: he is most certainly here - and helping bring ISEE-3/ICE back.
Mission Control for the ISEE-3 Reboot Project is located in Building 596 at NASA Ames Research Park adjacent to NASA Ames Research Center and Moffett Field in the heart of Silicon Valley. Building 596 is more commonly known as "McMoons" given that it is an abandoned McDonalds. When our Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project was looking for a temporary location in 2007 we had two choices: the old barber shop or a McDonalds that had just been closed. We picked the old McDonalds. Our friend Lynn Harper quickly came up with the name "McMoons" and it stuck.
Since our project to restore 50 year old hardware and recover all of the images from original data tapes sounded like some sort of improbable sci fi movie we put a pirate flag in the window - a symbol often associated with "Skunk Works" i.e. secret projects. We were kidding of course sinc enothing was secret. Well, the flag is still in the window, faded after 7 years. Our experience working with old hardware, forgotten technologies, and retired NASA employees prepared us well for the ISEE-3 Reboot Project.
McMoons is located here at NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field, CA. Next to our building (Building 596) is a 50 year old Titan 1 ICBM that we're helping students to restore, upgrade, and transform into a teaching tool. We like to make old stuff work.
More information on McMoons can be found here. More images below. Click on images to enlarge.
A group of citizen scientists has successfully established communication with an inactive NASA spacecraft in an attempt to breathe new scientific life into a more than 35-year-old agency mission.
NASA signed a Non-Reimbursable Space Act Agreement (NRSAA) with Skycorp, Inc., in Los Gatos, California, on May 21 that allows the company to contact, and possibly command and control, NASA's International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) spacecraft as part of the company's ISEE-3 Reboot Project. On May 29, the project team established two-way communication with the ISEE-3 spacecraft and began commanding it to perform specific functions.
"The initial contact was a tone followed by specific commands," project organizer Keith Cowing told NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce by email. "We learned a lot simply by being able to talk to it and get it to do things. "May not sound like much but that was a huge unknown," he adds."
"Communication requires a hardware amplifier installed in the dish at Arecibo. After a lot of fiddling around and even an earthquake, everything was ready.The team has been waiting since Friday last week for permission from NASA to go ahead with first contact. Every day of delay was a mounting risk, as orbital dynamics has no patience for paperwork."
CTV News Channel: Reviving a dead satellite (video) CTV
"Keith Cowing is the Co-lead on a project looking to reboot a 35-year-old spacecraft set adrift after completing it's mission."
Achim Vollhardt did a quick simulation of the expected signal spectrum and made an overlay with the spectrum observed from the ISEE-3 spacecraft. As you can see the prediction matches reality almost perfectly and shows that the spacecraft is sending telemetry at exactly the data rate commanded.
We have successfully commanded both of ISEE-3's data multiplexers into engineering telemetry mode. The current bitrate is 512 bits/sec. We have been able to verify modulated data through ground stations in Bochum Germany, Morehead State in Kentucky, and the SETI Allen Array in California. We will not be transmitting over the next few days but concentrating on studying telemetry we receive from the spacecraft. We are setting up, with the cooperation of Arecibo, a means to remotely command the spacecraft.
The ISEE-3 Reboot Project is pleased to announce that our team has established two-way communication with the ISEE-3 spacecraft and has begun commanding it to perform specific functions. Over the coming days and weeks our team will make an assessment of the spacecraft's overall health and refine the techniques required to fire its engines and bring it back to an orbit near Earth.
First Contact with ISEE-3 was achieved at the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico. We would not have been able to achieve this effort without the gracious assistance provided by the entire staff at Arecibo. In addition to the staff at Arecibo, our team included simultaneous listening and analysis support by AMSAT-DL at the Bochum Observatory in Germany, the Space Science Center at Morehead State University in Kentucky, and the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array in California.
Of course this effort would not have been possible without the assistance of NASA and the Space Act Agreement crafted by NASA Headquarters, NASA Ames Research center, and the System Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI).
For further information on the ISEE-3 Reboot Project please visit our website at http://spacecollege.org/isee3 A much more detailed description of our First Contact efforts and future plans will be published on our website next week.
Our plan is simple: we intend to contact the ISEE-3 (International Sun-Earth Explorer) spacecraft, command it to fire its engines and enter an orbit near Earth, and then resume its original mission - a mission it began in 1978. ISEE-3 was rechristened as the International Comet Explorer (ICE). If we are successful it may also still be able to chase yet another comet.
Working in collaboration with NASA we have assembled a team of engineers, programmers, and scientists - and have a large radio telescope fully capable of contacting ISEE-3. If we are successful we intend to facilitate the sharing and interpretation of all of the new data ISEE-3 sends back via crowd sourcing.
According to NASA we are "go" to contact ISEE-3 this afternoon. Our observation window at Arecibo opens at 2:28 pm EDT.
Dennis Wingo shot this video on the Arecibo dish yesterday when the earthquake hit. Shaking starts around 3:30.
Dennis Wingo was up in the dome when the earthquake hit Arecibo. He doesn't need any more coffee today #ISEE3— ISEE3 Reboot Project (@ISEE3Reboot) May 28, 2014
We have had the ability to contact the ISEE-3 spacecraft since last Friday. All hardware is in place at Arecibo and has been tested end-to-end. We are now awaiting authorization to proceed from NASA. First Contact can then happen almost immediately beginning as soon as Tuesday afternoon.
Every day we delay shortens the time available to contact the spacecraft and begin the process of understanding its condition and verifying our ability to command it. The longer we wait, the more fuel and thrusting time will be required. This will soon become a critical factor as we get into the month of June. Given that the spacecraft is not where everyone thought it would be, the possibility of a lunar impact cannot be discounted. Yet another reason why we need to make First Contact ASAP.
Sunday May 25 2014
We have had a very active week since we arrived and got started work. We arrived on Saturday the 17th and checked into the visiting scientists quarters near the big dish. And then we saw it.....
The Arecibo dish is too big to be taken in in one photo so here are a couple to give some sense of scale.
Figure 1: Central Focus of the Arecibo Dish (click on image to enlarge)
University of Arizona engineering student Jacob Gold is writing computer code that will help make contact with the spacecraft. More than 25 years ago, an abandoned NASA spacecraft fulfilled its mission, fell silent and has since been hurtling around the sun, somewhere between the orbits of Earth and Mars. Now, a University of Arizona engineering student is trying to wake it up.
Jacob Gold, an undergraduate student majoring in aerospace engineering, is on a mission against time. If he can't make contact with the SUV-sized space probe when it swoops by the moon this summer, it will disappear into the depths of space, not to return until Gold is 50 years old.
The space nerd coalition is raising funds to pull it off, and you can contribute here: "ISEE-3 Reboot Project by Space College, Skycorp, and SpaceRef." Project lead Keith Cowing says, "We have passed our initial $125,000 goal - and our $150,000 'stretch' goal. First Contact with ISEE-3 is imminent."
In 1997, NASA ordered the shutdown of the International Sun/Earth Explorer Spacecraft 3. Known as the International Cometary Explorer in its later years, the craft spent 19 years studying cosmic rays, comets and interactions between the Sun and Earth. But ISEE-3 was never actually shut down. It has leftover fuel and most of its experiments are still operational. Later this year, a band of citizen scientists wants to reawaken it to do their bidding. And they now have $159,000 and the blessing of NASA to do so.
The group of citizen scientists from Skycorp, Inc. thought there was still life in the spacecraft and started the ISEE-3 Reboot Project. NASA officially told the group that there was no funding to support the ISEE-3 reboot effort and that it was of little formal priority for the agency, despite believing the potential data the spacecraft could generate is valuable.
Have you ever forgotten to turn the lights off? I'm sure we all have! But have you ever forgotten to turn a spacecraft off? I'm guessing the answer's no... well that's exactly what happened in 1997 when a spacecraft, in orbit around the sun, was ordered to be shut down and someone forgot to flip the switch. Imagine their surprise when almost 10 years later it reappeared. NASA were keen to reuse it to gather data but didn't have the funding. Now private space flight enthusiasts have raised the money to get it fired up again. Dennis Wingo is the CEO of Skycorp Incorporated and he's at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
Dear ISEE-3 Reboot Project Supporters: In case you did not hear, we completed our ISEE-3 Reboot Project crowd funding effort on RocketHub yesterday. Our initial goal was $125,000. We passed that and set a new, "stretch" goal of $150,000. We passed that and ended up raising $159,502!
The entire ISEE-3 Reboot Team would like to thank you for your financial and moral support as we tackled this exciting - but daunting task. We post our progress online in a variety of places - but here is a summary of where we stand now.
Before we continue, some late-breaking news: during our listening sessions at Arecibo the other day it became clear to us that the ISEE-3 spacecraft is not exactly where JPL's database said it would be. After several decades, this is understandable. By adjusting the big dish we determined that the spacecraft is roughly 250,000 km from where is should be. Given that it is already on a lunar flyby trajectory - a close one at that - the error is such that there is a chance that it could hit the Moon - unless we fire the engines - and do so rather soon. All the more impetus to get things up and running! We're in both Reboot AND Rescue mode now!
Asked if the goal was to resume science or just prove that it could be done, Cowing said "it's both." "Why not try it? We told people up front it's iffy, and we've gotten over $150,000 now from people and they knew exactly what the risk was. And, it's cool. The factor that's motivated a lot of people is 'why not?'" As for the potential science, "we're going to do our best to make sure whatever comes back from that spacecraft is on line as fast as we can get it online, that it's open to anyone."
But why bother rebooting a decades-old satellite? Cowing said a big part of the answer is, "because we can. It's cool." Besides, he said, "the spacecraft has a lot of its original science capability. It can provide data that is actually useful." Princeton mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Jeremy Kasdin suggested a better question might be: "Why not?" Sure, a modern satellite could perhaps do the job better. "But it's not like we're going to turn around and build a satellite that's much more capable," because NASA is working on different priorities, said Kasdin, who is not affiliated with this project. Nor can NASA itself afford to keep all its old projects operational. "So if there's an opportunity that comes along" to find another way to fund an older mission, "that's always better than not. It's data as opposed to no data."
If there was any doubt about whether modern Americans were still enamored with space, the results of their crowdfunding campaign squash it. The group blew through their $100,000 goal, and are currently getting close to a $150,000 stretch goal. There are only two days left to donate--and you should--but the fact that they've raised so much money in so short a time is remarkable.
L to R: ISEE-3 Reboot Away Team: Dennis Wingo, Austin Epps, Balint Seeber. @spenchdotnet Balint Seeber: @ISEE3Reboot Double thumbs-up today from Arecibo Away Team w/ @wingod & @austin__epps Nice strong carrier from Xpnd B
Space College Foundation, Inc. (Space College) is a Virginia-based nonprofit organization. Our mission is to provide access to educational resources, career opportunities, and hands-on involvement in space exploration. While our main focus is on learning after high school, we strive to support learning about space exploration for students of all ages. We're just getting everything up and running. ISEE-3 Reboot Project is our first major activity. More information on Space College can be found here.
Space College is wherever you are.
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"This is just the beginning of a long dance," Cowing said. "We're approaching 1,900 donors, and they take this personally. Whether they've given us $5, $10, $1,500, they have an investment in us and they feel they've help make something cool happen, and we want to take everyone along for the ride. We want people to be able to use it."
"A hardy little spacecraft is about to come home after an incredibly long journey and an unexpected mission it had not been built for. As it flies by Earth next month, scientists will have a brief window to attempt to communicate with the vintage NASA craft and put it back to work on its original mission."
NASA Just Issued this press release: "NASA Signs Agreement with Citizen Scientists Attempting to Communicate with Old Spacecraft":
NASA has given a green light to a group of citizen scientists attempting to breathe new scientific life into a more than 35-year old agency spacecraft.
The agency has signed a Non-Reimbursable Space Act Agreement (NRSAA) with Skycorp, Inc., in Los Gatos, California, allowing the company to attempt to contact, and possibly command and control, NASA's International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) spacecraft as part of the company's ISEE-3 Reboot Project. This is the first time NASA has worked such an agreement for use of a spacecraft the agency is no longer using or ever planned to use again.
The NRSAA details the technical, safety, legal and proprietary issues that will be addressed before any attempts are made to communicate with or control the 1970's-era spacecraft as it nears the Earth in August.
The following are screenshots of data from the live receive session we did with our Ettus Research Software Defined Radio unit attached to the Arecibo antenna today (19 May). "Waterfalls" were generated by post-processing the recorded data. There are four recordings of various lengths as we were testing the setup, and this is the very, very initial result.
The first and second screenshot images were taken during the live capture. You can see the faint diagonal line of the carrier. This is a simple flowgraph Balint Seeber put together in GNU Radio that receives samples from the USRP (which is in turn connected to the IF output from their existing S-band receiver), records the samples to disk and also displays the FFT and waterfall plots of a selectable narrow-band portion of the spectrum.
Figures 1 and 2 (images 3 and 4) are the output of a Python script Balint wrote quickly after the data capture to perform a large FFT on the data (256K points) and produce the waterfalls with numpy & matplotlib (this one capture is ~14.5 min). Figure 1 is the entire baseband spectrum captured from the USRP (250 kHz BW). You can see the carrier left of center (log color scale). Figure 2 is zoomed into that area and you can see the Doppler shift (~977 Hz BW, linear color scale). Scales on both are just the FFT bin indices.
Unfortunately the signal is a little weaker than we expected, and it's also odd that it fades out toward the end of this capture (it returns and fades in subsequent ones too). Again, this is all very preliminary data done tonight on a rush basis. Much more detail to follow.
Click on Images to enlarge
Image 1: Screenshot taken during live capture.
The ISEE-3 Away Team (Dennis Wingo, Austin Epps, and Balint Seeber) is on-site at Arecibo preparing for First Contact. Austin Epps sent this photo taken in the observatory's control room yesterday. Larger image.
"A private team is preparing to make contact with a 36-year-old NASA spacecraft after reaching its $125,000 crowdfunding goal on Wednesday (May 14). The ambitious private project, the first of its type, is attempting to reuse the International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 probe (ISEE-3), which launched in 1978 and ceased science operations in 1997."
ISEE-3: Ready To Come Home, Hackaday
"The team working to reboot the ISEE-3 satellite hurtling towards an August encounter with Earth is hard at work. They've put up a crowdfunding page, and now that they're completely funded (don't stop donating, btw), they're starting to go deeper into the waters that will allow them to capture a forgotten satellite."
Now that we've passed our initial goal of $125,000, we have asked for an extension to our crowd funding effort - a "stretch goal" of $150,000. As we developed the software, hardware, and procedures needed to contact and command the ISEE-3 spacecraft, it became clear to us that getting additional information on the precise location of the spacecraft was of great value. The best way to do that is to use NASA's DSN (Deep Space Network). Since NASA is not funding our project, we'd need to pay them for this activity. Based on the time we'd need to use the DSN, $25,000 is a very good estimate. So, if you have not yet donated, here's your chance.
Meanwhile, First Contact will occur very soon - within the next week. Please consider helping this project at http://rkthb.co/42228.
Dennis Wingo: Today's update regards the progress of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project team in our preparations to contact the spacecraft. We started this effort 32 days ago on on April 12, 2014. Below is what we have accomplished in that time - and the challenges that lie ahead.
At the ISEE-3 Reboot Project our plan is simple: we intend to contact the ISEE-3 (International Sun-Earth Explorer) spacecraft, command it to fire its engines and enter an orbit near Earth, and then resume its original mission - a mission it began in 1978. Check us out at http://rkthb.co/42228
Animation by Mike Loucks at Space Exploration Engineering
"A pair of space geeks quarterbacking an effort to bring a derelict NASA spacecraft back into orbit around Earth expect NASA on May 13 to legally bless their privately funded project to recover and restart the 36 year-old International Sun/Earth Explorer-3. "We expect the Space Act Agreement to be signed tomorrow," Dennis Wingo, president of Moffett Field, California-based Skycorp Inc. wrote in a May 12 email. Prior to getting the Space Act Agreement, Wingo and his partner on the ISEE-3 reboot project, NASA gadfly and Internet publisher Keith Cowing, had already secured the use of four enormous non-NASA ground radar dishes, the help of about 20 volunteers, and the loan of a $200,000 transmitter that should allow controllers at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico -- one of the four radar dishes -- to contact the vintage Earth-observatory May 19 and command it to enter telemetry mode."
USRP N210 units delivered to ISEE-3 Mission Control today. "The USRP N210 provides high-bandwidth, high-dynamic range processing capability. The USRP N210 is intended for demanding communications applications requiring this type of rapid development" Larger image.
Skycorp Incorporated and Ettus Research, a subsidiary of National Instruments, have joined forces for the development of a crucial piece of hardware needed to contact the ISEE-3 spacecraft. Contacting ISEE-3, launched by NASA in 1978, is the focus of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project. ISEE-3 will be returning to Earth orbit in August of this year after having circled the sun for nearly four decades. SpaceRef Interactive, Skycorp, and Space College have joined forces to rescue the spacecraft, put it back into orbit near Earth, and use it for scientific research and STEM education.
"ISEE-3 was a spacecraft launched in 1978 which originally examined the solar wind and plasma environments around the edges of the Earth-Moon system. In the Early 80's some fancy orbital mechanics and a lunar gravity assist was used to put the spacecraft into deep space to encounter a couple of comets. Now 30 years later it's coming back to Earth and could use some more orbital mechanics trickery to bring it back into earth's orbit, the only problem is that the technology required to talk to the spacecraft has been 'retired'. So a team at Skycorp is racing against time to build a replacement and command the spacecraft back into a captured orbit."
Dennis Wingo: : The ISEE-3 Reboot project is an effort to contact, evaluate, command, and place back into operation in an Earth orbit the International Sun-Earth Explorer #3 (ISEE-3) spacecraft. In 1978 the ISEE-3 spacecraft was launched as part of a trio of spacecraft to monitor and understand the properties of the Earth's magnetosphere (the Earth's magnetic field) as it relates to how it is influenced by the various forms of radiation emitted by the Sun. ISEE-3 basically wrote the book and invented the term heliophysics. Later the spacecraft was renamed the International Cometary Explorer (ICE) and was the first to visit a comet (Gaicobini-Zinner on Sept 11, 1985), and Halley's comet on March 28th of 1986.
In 2014 this venerable spacecraft returns to Earth's orbit and our primary objective is to regain control of the spacecraft and command its engines to fire on a trajectory that will result in a capture into a permanent Earth orbit. Following this, we hope to return the spacecraft to science operations, using its instruments as they were originally designed. The data from the spacecraft will be open to the public and will be used by the heliophysics community and will be a tool for teaching operations and science data gathering from a spacecraft by students and the public. In the following sections we will detail the engineering objectives of the project until it is in its final Earth orbit.
"The golden years may be about to end for a 1970s-era NASA spacecraft. A crowdfunded team of engineers, programmers and citizen scientists aims to bring out of retirement the International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 probe (ISEE-3), which launched in 1978 and ceased science operations in 1997. In the coming months, the group intends to move ISEE-3 from its orbit around the sun to a stable spot close to Earth. The probe could stay there and study space weather, or it could jump off to chase down a comet, as it did several other times during its working life."
Space buffs hope to reawaken old NASA probe, Orlando Sentinel
"A group of garage engineers -- ranging from a 23-year-old former UCF student to an 81-year-old ex-NASA official -- wants to get the bookshelf-sized probe working again when it whips by the moon this summer. The aim is to restart its mission of monitoring space weather and -- if the group can pull it off -- send it to study an incoming comet in 2018. "This is something that has never been done before," said Robert Farquhar, 81, a former NASA manager who worked with the spacecraft in the 1980s."
Dennis Wingo: Today is May 1, 2014, the 17th day after we started our RocketHub project to raise $125,000 to allow us to attempt to contact, evaluate, and command the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) spacecraft to fire its engines in such a way as to return it to Earth orbit after a swing-by of the Moon on August 10 2014.
If you want to know all of the details, please read my previous posting on this subject here.
Today I want to discuss some of the technical issues and hurdles that we face in bring this spacecraft back into a stable Earth orbit. I am leaving out the experiments for the time being as we have to focus on the engineering required before we get to that part.