August 2014 Archives


"The ISEE-3 spacecraft was launched by NASA in 1978 to study the the interaction between the Earth's magnetic field and the solar wind and was operated up to the year 1997. In 2014 it was discovered that the probe wasn't deactivated and was emitting radio signals. A group of Citizen Scientists crowdfunded the ISEE-3 reboot project, earning enough money to buy and build equipment to reestablish contact and take control of the spacecraft."

More at LEGOtomy.

ISEE-3 Post-Lunar Flyby Status and Modification of Mission Goals

Figure 1: ISEE-3 Trajectory Through Aug 2016 (image courtesy

Communication with the ISEE-3 satellite was successfully re-established with the goal of commanding the satellite to change its trajectory with the goal of putting it into a libration point orbit that would allow it to resume its original mission goals of collecting data for solar physics research. The trajectory change goal unfortunately could not be completed due to the failure of the onboard thrusters. This failure was apparently the result of the loss of nitrogen pressurant in the Hydrazine fuel system.

This inability to change the spacecraft's orbit rules out the original reboot mission goals which would have provided long-term data collection from the satellite instrumentation package using modest antennas. After the orbit change attempt, the ISEE-3 Reboot Team powered on the instrumentation package and began data collection from the instruments to assess their current physical status and usefulness for any ongoing scientific mission. We are now redefining our mission goals to obtain the maximum scientific usefulness of ISEE-3 in its new interplanetary orbit. Figure 1 shows the flyby orbit and the long-term sun centered (heliocentric) orbit.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project Status 26 August 2014

We're organizing our international citizen science Deep Space Network of dishes and hope to have live science data updates online on a regular basis in the next few weeks. We're mailing out a huge pile of patches and other items to ISEE-3 Reboot Project donors today.

Earth Science Challenges and Crowdsourcing From NASA

NASA Picks Top Earth Data Challenge Ideas, Opens Call for Climate Apps

"NASA has selected four ideas from the public for innovative uses of climate projections and Earth-observing satellite data. The agency also has announced a follow-on challenge with awards of $50,000 to build climate applications based on OpenNEX data on the Amazon cloud computing platform. Both challenges use the Open NASA Earth Exchange, or OpenNEX, a data, cloud computing, and knowledge platform where users can share modeling and analysis codes, scientific results, information and expertise to solve big data challenges in the Earth sciences. OpenNEX provides users a large collection of climate and Earth science satellite data sets, including global land surface images, vegetation conditions, climate observations and climate projections."

The Influence of Social Movements on Space Astronomy Policy

The Influence of Social Movements on Space Astronomy Policy, Hannah E. Harris, Pedro Russo

"Public engagement (PE) initiatives can lead to a long term public support of science. However most of the real impact of PE initiatives within the context of long-term science policy is not completely understood. An examination of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Hubble Space Telescope, James Webb Space Telescope, and International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 reveal how large grassroots movements led by citizen scientists and space aficionados can have profound effects on public policy. We explore the role and relevance of public grassroots movements in the policy of space astronomy initiatives, present some recent cases which illustrate policy decisions involving broader interest groups, and consider new avenues of PE including crowdfunding and crowdsourcing."

Accepted for publication in Space Policy journal. Full Paper

SETI Institute Continues to Listen to ISEE-3

Citizen Science and Interstellar Dust

Mysteries of Space Dust Revealed

"With the help of a distributed science project called Stardust@home, volunteer space enthusiasts from around the world combed through the video, flagging tracks they believed were created by interstellar dust."

Space Aliens Are Already Here, Huffington Post

"A critical aspect of this was the dedication and hard work of the citizen scientists who worked on this," Westphal said. "We couldn't have done it without them." In fact, two of those Dusters, Bruce Hudson from Midland, Ontario, Canada, and Naomi Wordsworth from Wexbury, South Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom, were allowed to name the interstellar particles they found: Orion and Hylabrook, respectively. They are listed with the 66 scientist co-authors of the Science paper. Weshphal himself discovered the third interstellar dust track in the aerogels and called it Sorok, the Russian word for 40, the number attached to the track."

ISEE-3 Reboot Team at the Stanford Dish

View of the Stanford University 60 foot dish last night.  The ISEE-3 team has been working to install hardware to allow this dish to receive telemetry.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News 14 August 2014

A Google Chrome Experiment Visualizes The 36-Year Journey Of A Spacecraft, Fastcode Design

"The design of A Spacecraft for All offers a new ways to tell these stories, rather than relying on static video illustrations to tell the story of far-flung research endeavors, like NASA used for the Mars rover landing. "We got really excited about this project," Google Creative Lab's Richard The says. Over the course of a month, the Google team pulled together video interviews and designed 3-D graphics to make a complicated story about astrophysics digestible for non-NASA folks."

Space Nerds Launch McMoon's, A Control Center In A Defunct McDonald's To Hijack A Decommissioned NASA Satellite, SFist

"A group of space enthusiasts in Mountain View, California, with cooperation from NASA, have taken control of a 36-year-old decommissioned satellite that was originally put into orbit to study solar weather. The ISEE-3 satellite was launched by NASA in 1978 and has not been in use for about 20 years -- its battery died decades ago, but it was equipped with solar power and it just returned to Earth's orbit after many years floating in space and being forgotten."

After Moon Flyby, Vintage NASA Spacecraft to Study the Sun,

"By comparing the measurements between these ... spacecraft, we can get some idea of the scale sizes of the turbulence of the solar wind and the structure within the solar wind," said Christopher Scott, a United Kingdom-based project scientist with STEREO, in a Google+ Hangout on ISEE-3 Sunday (Aug. 10).

ISEE-3 Reboot Project Takes Place At "McMoons," AKA a Defunct McDonalds, The Mary Sue

"When you're trying to make contact with a decommissioned NASA satellite that was first launched into space about thirty-six years ago, location is key. You need somewhere that can hold a lot of people and low-tech equipment, and also maybe a ton of french fries for all those hungry citizen scientists. Hey, you know what would be great? An abandoned McDonalds restaurant."

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News 13 August 2014

Data From the Rescued ISEE-3 Spacecraft Have a New Internet Home

"... instead of heading to L1, ISEE-3 cruised gracefully past the Earth and moon, continuing onward into its 355-day orbit, gradually pulling away from us. But the spacecraft is silent no more. As promised, the reboot team has commanded ISEE-3 to begin sending home science data from its working instruments. Those data have a new Internet home, where they can be downloaded for free by citizen scientists. Google and the ISEE-3 Reboot Project have announced a new website, called "A Spacecraft for All." It's part-interactive documentary and part-data portal--and altogether pretty impressive. The website was built by Google Creative Lab, which brings together "writers, designers, filmmakers, technologists, and wild cards," according to its website. editor Keith Cowing, who leads the ISEE-3 Reboot Project with Skycorp CEO Dennis Wingo, said Google was interested in telling ISEE-3's story from early on."

A spacecraft for all - google creative lab's interactive space documentary, Designboom

"The latest chrome experiment 'a spacecraft for all' by google creative lab allows you to explore the amazing 36-year-long journey of the International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3). the website, which was made using the latest web technologies such as WebGL, WebAudio and threeJS features an interactive documentary and live updates from the spacecraft."

ISEE-3 Was Launched on 12 August 1978

ISEE-3 and GOES: Type III Burst Correlated to Solar Flares

Source: University of Iowa, NASA

Video of ISEE-3 Lunar Flyby Live Webcast with Google

ISEE-3 Signal Seen at the Allen Telescope Array

"The ISEE3 spacecraft made its closest approach to earth today. We were able to detect the transmitter carrier. This was the position of the ISEE3 spacecraft at the time the signal we detected. It is now heading away from earth, not to return for another 16 years."

Source - Jon Richards/SETI Institute

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News 11 August 2014

Google's New Chrome Experiment Tells A Story Of The ISEE-3, PC Tech

"Unless you're a rocket scientist, you've probably never heard the story of the International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) - yet it has had one of the most fascinating journeys in all of space flight. Originally launched in 1978 to study the Sun, it was the first spacecraft in the world to fly by a comet and has been orbiting the sun for billions of miles since 1986. Now, the ISEE-3 is headed back towards Earth and is on its way to becoming the first citizen science spacecraft thanks to a crowdfunded effort called The ISEE-3: Reboot Project."

ISEE-3 Completes Lunar Flyby, Begins a Citizen Science Program

"The team grew rapidly and as the Beatles song goes, Skycorp got by with a little help from their friends. Actually, a lot of help from their friends. First, there was a crowd funding effort. Thousands of individuals from around the globe contributed to a final crowd funding purse of about $160,000. This is in contrast to the $100 million or much more that is required to reach just the launch date of a NASA mission."

ISEE-3 makes lunar flyby, heads back into deep space, Gizmag

"Having shut down the probe's thrusters, the group left five of the science experiments operating and transmitting data back to Earth on the planet's magnetic field, solar winds, and cosmic radiation for as long as it remains within radio range. This data, along with information on the spacecraft, is available to the public on an interactive website that also explains the history of the reboot effort."

Civilians steer NASA satellite from an old McDonald's, Cnet

"I hadn't been aware that, if you ask NASA nicely, you'll be allowed to take the controls of a satellite floating in outer space. Clearly, I need to get out more, as this is what a group of very interested civilians are doing from their headquarters in a McDonald's. Let's be fair, it's an old McDonald's. It doesn't serve burgers anymore. Indeed, as Betabeat reports, it's now referred to as McMoon's."

Waving Goodbye To ISEE-3

(top): Attendees at ISEE-3 flyby at McMoons doing the PR version of waving goodbye to ISEE-3 up in the sky. (bottom): Attendees at ISEE- 3 flyby at McMoons doing the technically accurate version of waving goodbye to ISEE-3 where it is actually located.

Google Hangout: A Spacecraft for All: The Live ISEE-3 Lunar Flyby

Join the hangout live as the ISEE-3 spacecraft makes it's long-awaited lunar flyby after 36 years in interplanetary space. Flip between the 3D realtime trajectory and the live video program. Live from ISEE-3 Reboot headquarters, a special moderated by The Sky at Night's Chris Lintott and featuring scientists and experts from around the world all brought together for this historic event.

Sunday, August 10th 10:30am PT - 12:00pm PT

Go to

Updated Ephemeris for ISEE-3

Source: JPL Horizons: NOTE: No new measurements since July 15 despite some potential unmodeled thruster pulses just prior to that. However, Arecibo signal strength on August 5th suggests s41 was within ~100 arcsec of actual. ICE may be observable visually at mag. 19-20 over the Aug 9-20 interval.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News 10 August 2014

ISEE-3 Becomes A Spacecraft For All In Today's Lunar Flyby, io9

"Our plucky crowdfunded spacecraft has been getting into all sorts of productive mischief, from detecting a solar burst to worming its way into Google Chrome's interactive heart. Today ISEE-3 will be making its closest approach to the moon, and you can watch live with commentary from the project experts."

ISEE-3 Spacecraft Moon Data To Be Given To The Public, IBT

"ISEE-3, the 36-year-old spacecraft retired by Nasa and reactivated by a private group of scientists and engineers, will make a swing past the moon on Sunday as part of its long journey around the sun. It will be another 15 years before ISEE-3 gets this close to Earth again. During the lunar flyby, which will occur on August 10 at 11:16am PDT (3.16pm GMT), members of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project will begin collecting scientific data from the spacecraft's instruments and make it available to the public."

Crowd-funded ISEE-3 reboot mission to begin Sunday after lunar flyby, Ars Technica

"A vintage NASA satellite will fly past our moon Sunday before embarking on a unique citizen science mission. The International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) will have the closest view of the moon at 11:16 a.m. PDT. Members of the rebooted mission partnered with Google to create a website, where they will host a video hangout beginning at 10:30 a.m. PDT. The website, which launched on Friday, will play a greater role in the future as a source to view data from the ISEE-3 as it orbits the sun."

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News 9 Aug 2014

Vintage ISEE-3 satellite makes long-awaited flyby on Sunday, Los Angeles Times

"The lunar flyby will occur on Aug. 10 at 11:16 a.m. PDT, at which time members of ISEE-3 Reboot Project will begin collecting science data from the spacecraft's instruments and make it available to the public."

Rudderless Craft to Get Glimpse of Home Before Sinking Into Space's Depths, NY Times

"Mr. Wingo said his team had turned on eight of the spacecraft's 14 experiments and recruited the help of some of the original mission scientists. They include Michael Coplan, a physicist at the University of Maryland who, along with his students, helped build the ion composition instrument, which counted different types of charged atoms. Dr. Coplan had largely forgotten about the experiment after they received the last data in the late 1980s. This year, to clear space in a laboratory he would be sharing with another scientist, he threw out his ISEE-3 data notebooks. Then, in June, one of his former students heard about the reboot project and told Dr. Coplan, who went to the waste bin and found the notebooks. "That sat around for a while, fortunately," he said."

Google Lets You Watch Live Data From NASA's Long Lost Satellite, Gizmodo

The real action happens tomorrow, with a live lunar fly-by demo, interviews with the original NASA scientists and the Reboot team now monitoring ISEE-3, and a real-time data feed. But Google's deeply-interactive website for the prodigal satellite has plenty of cool stuff to play with today, whether it's learning about the history of ISEE-3 or watching the live data it's constantly beaming down.

Video: A Spacecraft For All: A Chrome Experiment

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News 8 August 2014

Google helps 'citizen scientist' group recover data from abandoned NASA satellite, VentureBeat

"There's a tendency at NASA for scientists to sit on data collected, because they want to make sense of it before releasing it [to the public]," ISEE-3 reboot co-leader and former NASA astrobiologist Keith Cowing told Venturebeat in an interview. "What we're trying to do is toss everything we have out there, all the data collected by the satellite, and hopefully people will do interesting things with it." Google is helping to disseminate data collected from ISEE-3 via a newly launched website SpacecraftForAll."

Civilians in Abandoned McDonald's Seize Control of Wandering Space Satellite, Beta Beat

"Until now, when NASA wanted to conduct research, they'd collect data and disappear with it for a few months before publishing. But the data from ISEE-3 is going to be available to anyone who wants access to it. It's a spacecraft funded by the public, and available for the public. "We're allowing anybody who is interested and has a computer to be able to do something with the data," Mr. Cowing said. Google has been helping them build a site which will open up the data to the world. Everything coming from the satellite will be available in different formats and packages so that anyone can dig in."

We are excited to let all of you know about the newly announced collaboration between the ISEE-3 Reboot Project and Google. The website is now live at Some background on this collaboration can be found at the Google Chrome Blog.

The main feature of this is a new website developed by Google Creative Lab in collaboration with the ISEE-3 Reboot Project team that features a history of the ISEE-3 mission as well as a presentation of data currently being received from ISEE-3.

On Sunday, 10 August at 2:16 pm EDT, ISEE-3 will make its closest approach to the Moon before resuming its orbit around the sun. As it passes this point the "ISEE-3 Citizen Science Interplanetary Mission" will officially begin.

We will have a Google hangout with representatives from NASA, Google, and our project beginning at 1:30 pm EDT / 10:30 am PDT on Sunday. We'll be discussing the mission's history and its future prospects. You can check in with our official website for a link for that webcast and the quests who will be participating.

Talking to ISEE-3 With GNU Radio

Free Software on the final frontier: GNU Radio controls the ISEE-3 Spacecraft

"To do this, the group turned to GNU Radio, a free software toolkit for implementing software-defined radios and signal processing systems. Modifying the software to communicate in the 1970s satellite protocol, members of the reboot project were able to gain access to the spacecraft and fire its thrusters in early July, and will soon attempt to move the satellite into an orbit close to Earth."

ISEE-3 Detects Type III Solar Burst

Don Kirchner, University of Iowa: "This is the first Type III burst I've seen in the data."

Infographic: ISEE-3 Closest Approach to the Moon

This image by astrogator Mike Loucks at SEE shows the path ISEE-3 will take as it makes its closest approach to the Moon on Sunday, 10 August at 18:16 UT. Click on image to enlarge.

ISEE-3 Science Status Report 7 August 2014

Ed Smith: As promised, the time of closest approach to the Moon is 18:16 UTC (on Sunday, 10 August). Vassilis Angelopolous at UCLA is now involved. He has two spacecraft in lunar orbit and is planning to acquire data during the ISEE flyby in a special telemetry mode. That should add immeasurably to the scientific results.

The telemetry signal continues to improve. There is still random telemetry noise but few if any long gaps so there is little disruption of the data and real signals are becoming clear. Don Gurnett's team (SCH or Plasma Waves) recently reported seeing Auroral Kilometric Radiation from Earth, ion acoustic waves in the solar wind and electron plasma oscillations usually caused by a shock wave. They are debating whether they are seeing waves from Earth's bow shock or an interplanetary shock.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News 7 August 2014

NASA's Abandoned ISEE-3 Spacecraft To Fly Past Moon, IEEE Spectrum

"Although ISEE-3's nitrogen leaked away, the spacecraft has shown incredible longevity otherwise. Its solar arrays draw more than 90 percent of the power they did in 1980--about 150 W--and the spacecraft's 1970's CMOS circuitry--which consists of 4000-series RCA state logic--is still largely functional. When it comes to the solar arrays, Wingo says, it's possible that some low-temperature self-annealing process might have helped repair radiation damage."

Recent ISEE-3 Electric Wave Experiment Data

The following plots are generated automatically every 15 minutes from a data stream provided by spenchdotnet. Adding Spacecraft position information to the plots is on the to-do list, as well as removing samples with telemetry bit errors. Calibrated data files will be made available to Ed Smith as soon as we can get it done. If you have any general questions about these data please contact Don Kirchner at the University of Iowa. If the data are not updating please contact Chris Piker at the university of Iowa.

Thanks to Austin Epps and Balint Seeber for help setting up the real time data feed. The link has been very stable over the last 48+ hours, good work guys!

Most Recent 4 Hour Period with Data

Most Recent 24 Hour Period with Data

Source: University of Iowa

Updated Ephemeris for ISEE-3 at JPL Horizons for August 2014

Updated Ephemeris for ISEE-3 at JPL Horizons 3 July 2014

Revised: Jul 15, 2014 ISEE-3/ICE Spacecraft

UPDATE (2014-Jul-15): Trajectory updated to JPL solution #41 (s41), based on 48 coarse Arecibo plane-of-sky angular measurements spanning May 22 - Jul 15.

ISEE-3 Location Update 6 August 2014

What's Next at Space College?

ISEE-3 Location 4 August 2014

Crowdsourced Listening to ISEE-3

Crowd Sourced ISEE-3 Monitoring

Live ISEE-3 Telemetry Streaming

Two USRP N210s for each transponder. Both are sync'd to the house reference and used timed streaming so the recordings are synchronised. The 'Zoom' tabs focus in on the transponder signal.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News

The Next Big Mac - The ISEE-3 Reboot Project, Inside GNSS

"Here's the coolest "technology-meets-ingenuity-meets-sustainable-economics" story that I've heard in a long time: the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) Reboot Project, a crowd-funded rescue mission to repurpose a 36-year-old NASA spacecraft. Operating out of an abandoned McDonald's restaurant near NASA's Ames Research Center in California, a team led by former NASA employee Keith Cowing and "space technologist" Dennis Wingo cut a deal with the U.S. space agency. The group would try to wake up the ISEE-3's onboard systems, refire its engines, bring the craft back into Earth orbit, and put the ancient mariner to work on new tasks. That's probably the best use of an abandoned McDonald's hamburger stand that I've heard. (Actually, it's the only one I've heard of. Who could imagine a place and people without the need for a Big Mac?) Perhaps the Golden Arches caught their attention, but in place of the iconic curved brandmark, these visionaries saw the arcs of possible trajectories, intersections in space and time."

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