"AR RF/Microwave Instrumentation is proud to support the team of citizen-scientists that is working to re-purpose a probe launched by NASA in the 1970s. NASA abandoned the probe due to budget limitations, but the group of citizen-scientists has found a way to make it useful again."
Recently in ISEE-3 Reboot Project Category
Although ultimately short-lived, the ISEE-3 project demonstrated the enthusiasm and resources available for private space endeavours. What other projects might follow? The sky is the limit - perhaps even involving the three lunar rovers sitting on the moon since the early 1970s. Only new batteries are needed to bring them back to life, so perhaps well-funded space tourists will, in a few decades, be able to not just fly to the moon but drive on it when they get there.
"For the first time, the American space agency has given control of one of its spacecraft to a team of citizen-scientists. The satellite was launched in 1978 and had not been active since 1997. But the citizen group has found a way to make it useful again. Space agency scientists have a name for the satellite. It is known as the International Sun Earth Explorer 3, or ISEE-3. ISEE-3 studied space weather beginning in the late 1970s. It also gathered information about particles flowing from the sun. These particles, also known as solar wind, can damage satellites and electrical systems and block radio signals."
Figure 1: ISEE-3 Post Flyby Trajectory (Courtesy of Mike Loucks www.see.com)
Since the lunar flyby on August 10th the ISEE-3 Reboot team has continued to work with Google Creative Lab to bring to full fruition the spacecraftforall.com website to provide real time data from ISEE-3. We have been working with the various dishes that have supported us until now, including Arecibo, Bochum, the SETI Institute, Morehead State and others. We now have a problem.
The ground stations listening to ISEE-3 have not been able to obtain a signal since Tuesday the 16th. Arecibo, Morehead, Bochum, SETI, as well as the Usuda 64 meter dish in Japan and the Algonquin 45 meter dish in Canada have all pointed at the spacecraft with no positive results. So, at this time we are assuming that the spacecraft has gone into safe mode.
What This Means
Safe mode on ISEE three can basically only occur from one problem, loss of power. Before the lunar flyby ISEE-3 orbited closer to the sun than the Earth. This resulted in a very good power profile for the spacecraft. However, as seen in the figure 1 here, since the flyby the spacecraft is traveling much farther away from the sun than it has been before:
We have not had many opportunities to get data from the spacecraft since the flyby as the antenna configuration has also been much worse from an attitude perspective. Also, we no longer have propellant to change the attitude of the spacecraft to improve this configuration. We can change the antenna pointing a bit but the first time we tried it, it did not work.
When ISEE-3 goes into safe mode it turns off all of the experiments and it turns off both transmitters and waits for help. Due to some uncertainty in the trajectory this may end up being a bit more of a problem than otherwise. We are working now to put together the commands to turn the transponders back on and obtain engineering telemetry. The last telemetry we have looked ok, but the spacecraft is still traveling farther away from the sun, and thus it is probable that last week the voltage on the power bus dropped enough to trigger the safe mode event. There is no functioning battery on the spacecraft now as it failed in 1981.
So, stay tuned for more information.
ISEE-3 Project Co-Lead
Emerging Space: The Evolving Landscape of 21st Century American Spaceflight, PDF, NASA Office of the Chief Technologist
"Crowdfunding offers space organizations avenues for fundraising outside traditional institutional methods. Sites like Kickstarter.com, Rockethub.com, and Indiegogo.com allow space companies to tap the financial resources of private citizens interested in space exploration. In addition to providing crucial funds for the companies, crowd funding allows citizens to directly engage in space exploration by funding the projects that interest them. The number of these projects continues to grow. Table 4 provides a few prominent examples known at the time of printing. ... ISEE-3, a NASA probe launched in 1978, became the first spacecraft in deep space to be operated by a private-sector organization thanks in part to a crowd funding campaign."
Note: When you add ISEE-3 Reboot Project ($160K) and Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project ($62K) together (both conducted by the same team) over $222,000 has been raised via crowdfunding. Click on image to enlarge.
Presentation slides that were not necessarily shown.
We hope to have the 64 meter dish at Usuda in Japan do some ISEE-3 data recording today/tomorrow as the solar storm arrives.
"For the first time, NASA, the U.S. space agency, has handed over the reins of one its spacecraft to a group of ordinary people. The International Sun Earth Explorer 3 was launched in 1978 to study space weather and collect data on the streams of particles flowing from the sun. Those particles, also known as solar wind, can damage satellites, interrupt radio signals and knock out electric systems that power our homes."
On 11 September 1985 ISEE-3 flew through the plasma trail of Comet Giacobini-Zinner and became the first spacecraft to encounter a comet. Photo: Kitt Peak, 1998.
"I had guys clambering over the [radio antenna] dish in Arecibo [Puerto Rico], hanging hardware while people were still giving money, and people were saying, 'This is great!' " he says. "I was live-tweeting everything we did. Every geeky expression that happened in the control room I threw out there, and people were telling me they got in trouble for not going to work, or skipping class, sitting on the subway reading it on their phone." "The bulk of the people that give you money don't quite even understand exactly what you're going to do," says Cowing. But success comes "if you tell a compelling story, couch this in a way that there's adventure involved, but also a payback opportunity that people feel is important, that there's something to be learned."
On September 4 we attempted to contact ISEE-3 from the Morehead State University dish. Our plan was to switch antennas and to change antenna orientation. We were unable to make contact with ISEE-3 although we can still hear it. The next attempt to contact and command ISEE-3 will be attempted next week.
The sun and McMoon's - Citizen group commandeers retired NASA satellite, Mountain View Voice
"The scrappy bunch of students, entrepreneurs and former NASA scientists who work out of "McMoon's" -- an abandoned McDonald's at Moffett Field -- are at it again. They're using crowdfunding to take control of an abandoned 1978 NASA satellite to study the weather on the sun, potentially predicting impacts on earth from climate change and dangerous solar storms. It's not the first time the group in the shuttered McDonald's has won public interest in a project. A few years ago the group made headlines for its efforts to digitize reams of film of high-resolution images of the moon taken during the Apollo missions in the 1960s."
"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.
Figure 1: ISEE-3 Trajectory Through Aug 2016 (image courtesy www.see.com)
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.
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.
The Influence of Social Movements on Space Astronomy Policy, Hannah E. Harrisa, 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
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.
"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."
"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."
"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."
"... 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. NASAWatch.com 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."
"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."
Source: University of Iowa, NASA
"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
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
(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.
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
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.
"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, 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."
"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."
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."
"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."
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.
"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."
"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 http://www.spacecraftforall.com/. 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.
"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."
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.
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."
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 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.
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.
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."
We successfully commanded ISEE-3 from the 21 meter dish at Morehead State University today. Transponder A was commanded into science telemetry mode. Troubleshooting of the higher data rate issue is ongoing.
Meanwhile, we've begun mailing out gifts to our donors.
"A private team is priming a 36-year-old NASA spacecraft to perform new science as it travels through interplanetary space after attempts to move the probe into a position closer to Earth failed. The volunteer team initially hoped to park the vintage International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 spacecraft, called ISEE-3 for short, in a stable location between the Earth and the sun called L-1. But those attempts ended when controllers discovered there wasn't enough nitrogen pressurant left in the probe's tanks to help make course corrections."
"Alas, ISEE-3 spacecraft, we almost caught you. Attempts to move a 36-year-old NASA probe closer to Earth have failed, but only because the vintage spacecraft is simply out of gas, according to the team of volunteer engineers now controlling the spacecraft. The spacecraft, called the International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3), has run out of vital nitrogen gas needed to pressurize its propulsion system, according the private team of engineers. The team, which calls itself the ISEE-3 Reboot Project, has spent recent weeks puzzling through an issue that shut down attempts to send the ISEE-3 spacecraft on a new trajectory on July 10. With all options exhausted, the team now plans to do science in a different location instead."
"The citizen science team wanted to execute burns to drop the craft back in its 1978 orbit, but the spacecraft disagreed. The original hope was to execute burns to blaze past the moon and drop the spacecraft puttering about in a L-1 halo orbit. Alas, although ISEE-3 had enough juice to do a power-up spin to reach its optimal rotation rate, the nitrogen propellant has bled away. The aging craft is willing, but after 30 billion miles, it just doesn't have enough gas to change its trajectory. Instead, it'll do a lunar flyby, and resume its heliocentric orbit, this time blazing a trail ahead of us instead of stalking the Earth. But here's the thing: this time, it'll be doing science."
ISEE-3 spacecraft presentation in Guildford Saturday, Southgate ARC
"Achim Vollhardt DH2VA and Mario Lorenz DL5MLO from AMSAT-DL Bochum will be giving a presentation on ISEE-3 (ICE) to the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium at the Holiday Inn, Guildford, GU2 7XZ. The event is open to all ."
After a successful reawakening the venerable ISEE-3 spacecraft is about to begin the first interplanetary citizen science mission.
In April 2014 our team set about bringing the 36 year old ISEE-3 (International Sun Earth Explorer 3) spacecraft back into science operations. Our plan was to contact the spacecraft, evaluate its health, command it to resume normal operations, fire its engines, and resume the orbit it originally occupied in 1978. Once science operations resumed, our plan was to make the data openly available to citizen scientists - in fact, anyone, anywhere - as soon as we received it from the spacecraft.
We had a session with ISEE-3 today via Arecibo with support from AMSAT-DL/Bochum team in Germany. We engaged in "hammer mode" wherein we tried to open and close all of the latch valves repeatedly with the hope that this might get the propulsion system working. It did not. We then began to transition the spacecraft to science mode by turning on two additional science instruments. We'll post a detailed update tomorrow.
Keith Cowing and the Outrageous ISEE-3 Rebooters , Planetary Radio
"They have generated excitement, enthusiasm and support throughout the world. The ISEE-3 Reboot Project has succeeded in gaining control over the 36-year old spacecraft, but will they be able to move it."
Any space mission worth doing should have an education and public outreach (EPO) component. An EPO effort helps to efficiently disseminate information to those with a specific interest in a particular mission. Done properly it also serves as a means to spur interest in space exploration in general amongst a much broader audience. With the use of various Internet and social media resources an effective EPO effort can now reach an audience in ways that were not possible a decade ago.
Lost and Found in Space: Rebooting ISEE-3: Space for All, op ed, Keith Cowing, New York Times
"NASA likes to say that "space is hard," but to make itself relevant to the people whose taxes fund it, it must get outside its comfort zone. To its credit, NASA saw the potential of our project to reach beyond the traditional audience. The interactions via social media with our supporters have borne this out. Imagine what feats of exploration might be possible if an empowered and engaged citizenry realized that exploring space is really something anyone can do."
"After refusing to fire its engines last week for a course correction, a vintage NASA spacecraft did produce a bit of thrust Wednesday (July 16), proving it still has at least some fuel left after 36 years in space."
Citizen Scientists Get ISEE-3 Satellite Engines to Fire!, The Mary Sue
"The amazing people behind the ISEE-3 reboot project have gotten its engines to fire! They previously had trouble due to a lack of nitrogen to push fuel through the old satellite's fuel lines and into the engines, but some creative use of the satellite's tank heaters seems to have paid off and gotten things working."
During our pass at Arecibo today we managed to get some propulsion out of thruster K. We're looking at how this was accomplished with an eye toward repeating it. We expect to do a DSN pass on 24 July so as to further refine the spacecraft's location. We are also working to start communicating with ISEE-3 from Morehead State University in the very near future. We also have one of many documentary teams at McMoons today to document our efforts.
Our window with Arecibo opens tomorrow (Friday) at 12:13 pm ET. We will continue with our plumbing and electrical testing and see if we can get the propulsion system operating again.
"No one on our team is an experienced hydrazine expert," he said. "After receiving a few e-mails from people who offered suggestions on what might have happened, [we] decided to throw the problem out to the world. I was astonished at the response."
The July 10 post on the ISEE-3 blog and NASA Watch (Cowing's website) generated many suggestions, including some from "the most qualified professionals in the world," Wingo said, while declining to name names due to privacy concerns."
Crowdsourced Know-How May Put Salvaged ISEE-3 Spacecraft Back on Track, NBC
"After a series of setbacks, the decades-old ISEE-3 spacecraft revived by a team of experts may be getting back on track -- following input from a global community of aerospace experts. Space College, the group that resurrected the International Sun-Earth Explorer probe, wrote in a blog post Tuesday that asking for help on the project resulted in a flood of input, some coming from "the most qualified professionals in the world ... literally, the very top tier of experts."
How Arecibo Observatory Transmits to the ISEE-3 Spacecraft, Planetary Society
"Since the ISEE-3 project required quick implementation at Arecibo, we opted for manual switching between transmitting and receiving. Thus, at least two people needed to be in the telescope dome for when we'd communicate with the spacecraft, and at least one person needed to be in the control room directing the turret to rotate. This entire ballet was complex, and orchestrated over phone lines."
During our interaction with ISEE-3 today we tried a variety of valve and thruster selections using both sides of the propulsion system combined with tank and fuel line heating. Although we met with limited success we did get several instances of thrust (the main intent) and also a change in the Fine Sun Sensor angle of the spacecraft. So, something changed the trajectory of ISEE-3 albeit slightly. Also, the temperatures in the fuel tanks only rose a little bit which is what you'd expect of they were still full of fuel. This is good news since we were concerned for a while that there might have been a loss of fuel and/or pressurant. So ... we're analyzing the data and trying to sleuth out how we got the momentary thrust and then apply that to our next interaction with the spacecraft. We have applied for an extension to our license from NASA to transmit to the spacecraft and are awaiting their reply.
Space Dream Revived in an Abandoned McDonald's, Bloomberg View
"Can a group of citizen scientists working out of an abandoned California McDonald's re-energize U.S. space exploration? Thirty years ago, that question would have been the basis for a science-fiction novel, at best. Today, however, not only are the scientists and the McDonald's real, but the group has also commandeered a 36-year-old NASA space probe bound for an August fly-by of the Earth and moon."
"The ISEE-3 Reboot Project, as these enthusiasts call themselves, exists to revive an old spacecraft. A very old one. It was launched in 1978, and has thus spent almost two-thirds of the entire space age, which began in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik, in orbit around the sun. But in 1997 NASA decided ISEE-3 had done its job as a solar observatory and comet-chaser, and shut it down. Just in case somebody in the future wanted to try to revive it, the shutdown left the craft in standby mode. And that, as their name suggests, is what the Rebooters are trying to do."
Dennis Wingo: We are Now Living in a Science Fiction World. In the science fiction universe of Star Trek, set several hundred years in the future, when we are a spacefaring civilization, humanity encounters a species called the Borg. The Borg are a conglomeration of species who are assimilated into a collective mind numbering in the hundreds of billions. All of the Borg are connected to each other through a communications link that allows each of them to share each others thoughts, though in a manner that erases individuality.
This week, with the call that our ISEE-3 reboot team put out to the internet for help in debugging our propulsion system problem, I have come to realize that a significant portion of humanity has reached a Borg like state, one where the internet has become a collective mind for communications and knowledge sharing. We still have our individuality, we can still decouple at will from the collective mind, but in a way that few philosophers or technologists have envisioned, we are connected in a way never before thought possible. The implications are staggering, and here is how our little ISEE-3 project is an example of the operation of the collective mind.
Our next window at Arecibo is tomorrow (Wednesday) between 12:19 pm and 3:03 pm ET. During that opportunity we intend to attempt a deep space plumbing repair on board ISEE-3 and then fire its engines.
Right now we still only need approximately 10 m/sec of Delta V for the Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) so we're looking good in terms of fuel reserves. Based on the number of thruster firings we achieve during that plumbing repair session we'll need to do some additional firings - possibly over the course of several days - all of which will constitute the TCM.
If you have ever had to clean our your car's carburetor and fuel lines then you have an idea of what we will be attempting. More details to follow.
"I have been following your effort to revive ISSE-3 with great interest since I worked on this project as an employee of Fairchild Space Company. Attached is a picture of the satellite in Hanger AE at the Cape. I am the second person from the right end and Rich Kramer is standing next to me on my right hand. On my left hand is Dick Collingwood and the three of us were the last people to work on the satellite on the pad prior to launch. Wishing you the best of luck. Ed Grebenstein"
Images copyright and courtesy of Ed Grebenstein. Click on images to enlarge
More images below
These images were provided by Todd Kramer. His father, Richard Kramer, worked on the ISEE-3 project and took these pictures. These photos show the final assembly and testing at NASA GSFC in May 1978 after ISEE-3 was moved there from the Fairchild facility in Germantown, MD. We'll be posting more photos from Todd that show the spacecraft being transported to KSC, prepared for launch, and then launched. All photos are copyright Todd Kramer. Click on image to enlarge.
More images below
Less than two hours after sending out a distress signal for help, engineers who worked on exactly these types of propulsion systems emerged from the digital wilderness to offer their hard-won experience. What the team learned was a mix of good and bad: solubility probably wasn't the problem impeding the satellite's thrusters. Awesome, they don't need to fix that! Boo, they only have about two or three more options of things that are fixably bad to work on. And if none of those are the problem? Then this will be a glorious, exciting, exuberant failure, and ISEE-3 will continue on its orbit about the sun, leaving us behind once more. Good luck, team. We're cheering for you.
Volunteer engineers struggle to get ISEE-3 back in gear, The Space Reporter
Attempts to shift the craft's trajectory began on Tuesday, but ISEE-3 failed to accelerate. The team first thought that the craft suffered from a stuck valve, but after investigating further, they began to suspect that it did not have enough nitrogen left to provide pressure to its fuel system. If the team is unable to change ISEE-3's course, then the craft will fly around the moon on August 10 before resuming its orbit around the sun. The volunteer engineers look to gain more information about the craft's condition during Friday's radio communications session. Even if they fail to bring ISEE-3 into a stable orbit, the team still hopes to use it for scientific purposes while it is in the inner solar system.
So we're left with the question "Is it better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all?" Cowing seems to think so. As he told SpaceNews on July 9, "We did stuff that was widely seen as impossible, improbable, and impractical. You need to focus on the absurd things that are possible." And it's focused minds on the usefulness of the past. The relentless advancement of technology is good for Mars rovers and Netflix streaming speeds, but it also means we abandon still-useful gadgets. And magnetic readings from the sun are magnetic readings from the sun, whether they come from a silicon-encrusted modern craft or a disco-era one.
The ISEE-3 Reboot Mission: a dream SDR application, Balint Seeber, Ettus Research
"Upon arriving at Arecibo, I knew I was in the right place when I walked outside the rear of the Visiting Science Quarters and found a dipole antenna in the backyard. This was in fact a riometer experiment, and the data acquisition board and laptop were left on my room's table. While exploring the main facility itself, one truly finds themselves in RF heaven. From the first glimpse of the top of one of the three towers supporting the platform that is suspended above the dish, to riding the cable car up to the platform itself with the dish appearing in a slow reveal, to jogging around the perimeter of the dish, the scale of the place is incredible. This, along with stories of birds being cooked by the S-band RADAR, and only 1 dB of loss across the RF waveguide that extends from the 2.5 MW (peak power) 430 MHz klystrons next to the control room, across the cat walk, and into the Gregorian Dome, conveys the seriously large (and tiny) numbers the science conducted at Arecibo deals with."
We spent all day yesterday with space propulsion experts. We have identified a series of options including hydrazine tank heating and a long series of pulse attempts to (possibly) clear the lines. We have most certainly not given up on this spacecraft yet. It is doing science and will continue to do so for years to come.
We have a crowdsourced research project for our ISEE-3 Reboot fans. One of our volunteers, Karl-Max Wagner from Germany has an interesting idea. Did the Nitrogen pressurizing gas dissolve in the Hydrazine in the tanks?
This is something that we would like to research and for efficiencies sake and to get the job done quicker, we would like our project fans out there to help us in this research. I am reading an old USAF document on this now and it may be nothing, but it also may be something. We need to research the following:
- What is the solubility of Nitrogen in Hydrazine?
- What is the temperature dependence?
- Most important, what is the time required to dissolve 1 kg of Nitrogen in 15 kg of Hydrazine? This is an approximation for both tank systems of course.
This is important. Don't just throw stuff on the wall, help us research this.
Send your thoughts to email@example.com or post them in the comments section below.
Even though they might not be able to capture the spacecraft, Mr. Cowing said they were devising an alternative in which ISEE-3 would collect scientific data and send it back to Earth. "There's a Plan B," he said. "We're going to listen to the spacecraft as long as it talks."
On Wednesday, members of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project spent two hours attempting to diagnose and repair the problem by "jiggling" fuel valves on and off and instructing the 36-year-old craft to fire several of its 12 thrusters. When these attempts failed to work, engineers concluded that the satellite's fuel system had lost critical pressure. "We have exhaustively tested the propulsion system with no good results," Dennis Wingo, chief executive of Skycorp Inc., and leader of the privately run project, said on his Twitter account.
The ISEE-3 Reboot Project efforts were funded with $160,000 raised on the crowd-funding website RocketHub.com. Another fundraising drive likely would have been required for the citizen science campaign Cowing and Wingo were planning. "We did stuff that was widely seen as impossible, improbable, and impractical," said Cowing. "You need to focus on the absurd things that are possible."
Our troubleshooting today eliminated some suspected causes of propulsion system problems. We do not think any of the valves are malfuctioning. Right now we think there is a chance that the Nitrogen used as a pressurant for the monopropellant Hydrazine propulsion system may have been depleted. That said, we still have a number of troubleshooting options yet to be explored. We have a DSN pass scheduled for Friday that will allow us to recalibrate our location information and trajectory plans for ISEE-3. Even if the L-1 halo orbit is no longer an option, we do have plans to use ISEE-3 for science in other locations within the inner solar system after the lunar flyby on 10 August.
Mike Loucks @Astrogator_Mike Symmetry baby! Outbound #ISEE3 trajectory (blue) from 1983 and Incoming (green) in 2014. Earth-Sun rotating frame.
These charts represent data recorded during our Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) thruster firings yesterday. Thruster firings were planned to done in groupings - or "segments" - of 63 firings per segment. The first chart is annotated to show the three firing attempts. The first segment was full duration but only partially successful. The second and third attempts failed. Possible causes (under investigation) include valve malfunction and fuel supply issues. Click on images to enlarge.
NASA's Zombie Spacecraft Learns to Fire Its Engines, The Atlantic
"The quest to save the ISEE-3--a long-lost NASA probe launched in the disco era and abandoned in the dot-com boom--might just succeed. Late last week, the amateur scientists and engineers working to salvage the probe hit a major milestone: They coaxed the craft into firing its rotational thrusters."
"In the past month of working with the spacecraft, Cowing said they'd gotten used to its idiosyncrasies. ISEE-3 lacks an onboard computer, so commands must be fed to it one at a time. Cowing compared the process to rock-climbing: When it's time to move to the next outcrop, the movement has to happen quickly and definitively. "You just have to push through it and the data you get back isn't exactly what you want. As soon as it would take another command, you just rush through the next one and the next one," he said. "It's like telling an old dot-matrix printer from back in the day to do something."
In Effort to Shift Abandoned NASA Craft, a Hiccup (or Burp), New York Times
"The first part of the maneuver succeeded, a milestone in an effort to resurrect a zombie spacecraft that NASA abandoned 17 years ago. But then -- perhaps to be expected during work on a jalopy -- problems cropped up, and the thrusters failed to fire properly. Another attempt to complete the course correction will be made Wednesday. "I feel like it is taunting us sometimes," Keith Cowing, one of the leaders of the effort, said of the 36-year-old spacecraft, the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3, or ISEE-3. It is not NASA commanding the spacecraft now, but a group of civilians working in a former McDonald's in California taking advantage of technological goodies of the 21st century, including Skype, Twitter, laptop computers and crowdsourcing."
"Now, as of Tuesday, they've been sending commands for engine burns that will actually change the vehicle's course. "And the first burn went well, we thought," says Cowing, "and then it stopped and we got indications that the spacecraft had changed its speed, which is what you want." But the second attempt to fire the engines didn't go as smoothly. "It's a cranky old spacecraft that -- knock on wood -- does what we tell it to do most of the time," says Cowing. "We kind of knew we might be doing this over the course of a day or two, so this isn't surprising."
"An attempt to divert NASA's venerable International Earth/Sun Explorer (ISEE)-3 satellite back toward Earth was suspended due to technical issues early July 8, but the all-volunteer team seeking to resurrect the 1970's-era heliophysics mission expects to try again July 9."
We managed to conduct the first segment (composed of 63 thruster pulses) but encountered problems with the second and halted the remainder of segment firings. Today's burn was supposed to be 7.32987 m/s. We're looking at data and formulating a plan for tomorrow. Our window tomorrow (Wednesday) at Arecibo opens at 12:39 pm EDT and extends to 3:26 pm EDT.
You can see telemetry from ISEE-3 here at AMSAT-DL
The photos below are from Mission Control at McMoons.
As many of you know, last week we fired the thrusters on ISEE-3 to do a spin-up burn. Before the burn (actually 11 pulses on the spacecraft's hydrazine thrusters) the spin rate of ISEE-3 was 19.16 rpm. After spin-up burn it was 19.76 rpm. The original mission specifications for ISEE-3 called for a spin rate of 19.75 +/- 0.2 rpm. In other words: bullseye.
If all goes according to plan on Tuesday, 8 July, we will conduct the Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM). This will require a much longer firing of the spacecraft's thrusters. Our window at Arecibo opens at 12:42 pm EDT and extends until 3:29 pm EDT. If the burn is a success we will follow up with another ranging session using the DSN to get an exact measure of the spacecraft's position, trajectory, and speed. After that we should be good to go for our lunar flyby on 10 August.
After the last technical tag-up for today it looks like TCM will be 432-435 pulses fired in 7 segments with a total delta V of approximately 7 m/sec.
ISEE-3 Project Team Announces the Space Probes Engines are Fired Up, CrowdFund Insider
"Just a little over a month since the closing of their crowdfunding campaign on RocketHub campaign to the close, the team behind the ISEE-3 Reboot Project announced over the week that they have successfully fired up the space probe's engines."
"The volunteer team attempting to resurrect NASA's International Earth/Sun Explorer (ISEE)-3 observatory before it goes hurtling into orbit around the sun for thousands of years will attempt to boost the venerable spacecraft back into the Earth system July 8."
"On July 2, the Cold War-era satellite fired its first thrusts since 1987, according to team members of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project. "All in all, a very good day," co-leader Keith Cowing wrote in a blog post. Though made up largely of former NASA employees, ISEE-3 Reboot Project's private group also has some younger space-lovers on board. "Some of our team members were not even born yet the last time the engines fired," the team said via Twitter."
36-Year-Old NASA Probe's Engines Successfully Fired Up by Private Team, Scientific American
"ISEE-3 needs to be moved to put it in an advantageous position to communicate with Earth. In past interviews with Space.com, Cowing has said the group will focus on what to use the spacecraft for after rescuing it. Another priority will be seeing how well its 13 scientific instruments function. At least one instrument, the magnetometer, is working well enough to do science. "Recent magnetometer data shows recent solar event," the team said via Twitter on Wednesday (July 1)."
Our ISEE-3 Reboot Project store is now open and online at CafePress.
Source: JPL HORIZONS
Ephemeris Type: OBSERVER
Target Body: ICE Spacecraft (ISEE-3)
Observer Location: Geocentric 
Time Span : Start=2014-07-04, Stop=2014-08-03, Step=1 d
Table Settings: defaults
Object Data Page
UPDATE (2014-Jul-03): Trajectory update from ISEE-3 Reboot based on Arecibo angular data and DSN two-way Doppler.
ISEE-3 Propulsion System Awakens at 11th Hour, Space News
"If ISEE-3 makes it back to Earth-sun Lagrange Point 1, Cowing and Wingo plan to command the spacecraft from mission control McMoons: an abandoned McDonald's on the Campus of NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Besides raking in more heliophysics data, Cowing and Wingo want to give the general public, students in particular, a chance to learn firsthand about Earth-sun interactions, and spacecraft operations."
"An old NASA spacecraft under the control of a private team fired its thrusters on Thursday for the first time in a generation. NASA's International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 probe, or ISEE-3, which the agency retired in 1997, performed the maneuver in preparation for a larger trajectory correction next week. The spacecraft hadn't fired its engines since 1987, ISEE-3 Reboot Project team members said."
An old workhorse satellite spins back up, The Economist
"In the month since re-waking ISEE-3, and with the assistance of both Arecibo and the global Deep Space Network (DSN), that team has been testing command responses and poking gently at the instrumentation on board. Doing so is not easy. The original control code is long gone, so the team has had to improvise their own. The satellite lacks any program storage: each command to be executed must be sent one at a time and acknowledged for the group to be sure they can proceed to the next step."
Further confirmation of the ISEE-3 spin-up burn yesterday. Before the burn (actually 11 pulses on the spacecraft's hydrazine thrusters) the spin rate of ISEE-3 was 19.16 rpm. After spin-up burn it was 19.76 rpm. The original mission specifications for ISEE-3 called for a spin rate of 19.75 +/- 0.2 rpm. Bullseye.
From Pat Barthelow on Facebook: (translation): Hey Folks! Just heard from my Moonbounce friends (Jan, PA3FXB and team) in Dwingeloo Holland (PI9CAM) who have a 25 meter Moonbounce dish, that they are hearing ISEE-3 easily, including spin modulation (AM) They can do this with an SDR that just yesterday they tried for the first time, and almost fell of their chairs when they clearly heard it, the first try, and that was using wide bandwidth, SSB voice, about 2.3 kHz. tomorrow they will look again at narrow bandwidths, and anticipate a booming signal with very high S/N. this is incredible. see photo of their newly rebuilt history making dish that originally saw first light in the late 1950s.
Ed Smith, Original Original Principal Investigator on ISEE-3 Vector Helium Magnetometer: The effort to recapture the ISEE-/ ICE spacecraft has just achieved a notable scientific success. Data recovered from the spacecraft very recently show that the magnetometer is not only operating well but has observed a large rapid change in the Interplanetary Magnetic Field/IMF.
What makes this accomplishment so remarkable is that it is the first science data returned by the spacecraft after its long 29 -year voyage around the Sun (traveling ahead of and slightly faster than the Earth). That trip began shortly after ISEE carried out the first encounter with a comet, Giacobini- Zinner, in September 1985. Shortly afterward, the ISEE experiments continued to operate but were disconnected from the radio telemetry so that only a beacon was being transmitted. In the intervening years, no scientific data were received.
The ISEE-3 Reboot Project mission control team for today's engine firing: From left to right: Austin Epps - Lead Engineer, Jacob Gold - Systems Engineer; Cameron Woodman - Flight Director; Dennis Wingo - Mission Director, Project Co-lead; Marco Colleluori - Attitude & Orbit Control Systems Engineer; and Balint Seeber - Communications Engineer, SDR Guru (Ettus Research)