"Using a custom-designed transmitter from Dirk Fischer Elektronik of Germany, the ISEE-3 Reboot Project led by blogger Keith Cowing and businessman Dennis Wingo has established two-way communications with the old heliophysics observatory, Wingo wrote in an online post May 29. The good news is that the spacecraft, launched in 1978, is now in engineering telemetry mode, meaning controllers on Earth can assess the health of the satellite and its instruments. A three-person team awakened the dormant ISEE-3, which is in its heliocentric orbit, using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, to which the German-made transmitter was affixed. "
35-year-old ISEE 3 Craft Phones Home, Sky and Telescope
"Thorny problems arose almost immediately. NASA long ago abandoned the technology to communicate with ISEE 3. It no longer had radio dishes rigged to transmit and receive at the right frequency nor the programs needed to command the craft. Also, NASA managers weren't really interested in spending time or money to reestablish contact. Ground controllers last contacted the craft in 1999, ostensibly for the final time, but they neglected to turn off its carrier signal. None of this dissuaded the craft's would-be resuscitators, a team of engineers, programmers, and scientists led by veteran spacewatchers Dennis Wingo and Keith Cowing and collectively known as the ISEE-3 Reboot Project. Yesterday the group proudly tweeted, "SUCCESS! We are now in command of the ISEE-3 spacecraft!"
"Days ago, in a move that many people doubted was even possible, they made two-way contact with the almost-36-year-old spacecraft, and they've declared themselves "in control" of it as it rapidly approaches its home. The moment is undeniably cool: Using old-fashioned archival sleuth work, citizen scientists hack their way into an abandoned space object. The team, led by journalist Keith Cowing and space engineer Dennis Wingo, hope to make almost all the data from the ISEE-3 public, and to create a scientific community around the decades-old probe."