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!
As for overall project news, last week we signed our Space Act Agreement with NASA. This agreement specifies our relationship with NASA, the use of a building as our mission control, and the process whereby we move toward contacting and commanding the ISEE-3 spacecraft. This agreement is a first for NASA and sets a precedent. We want to thank the good folks at NASA for all the work they put into constructing this agreement for us - as well as for the enthusiasm they have demonstrated for what we are attempting - and why we are attempting it.
As for technical progress, our "Away Team" has been at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico for the past week. We have installed our Software Defined Radio unit and have used it to detect the ISEE-3 spacecraft. We have also installed our custom-made amplifier on the antenna and completed an end-to-end systems check yesterday. All of our hardware works perfectly and we are ready to make contact with ISEE-3. All that remains is for windows to open up on the observatory's schedule and for NASA to give us a green light.
In addition, another Software Defined Radio and amplifier is being shipped to Morehead State University. We expect to bring the Morehead folks into operation in the next week or so. We also have the assistance of the SETI Institute's Allen Array and the AMSAT-DL/Bochum Radio Telescope. We also hope to announce another education and outreach partner with a listening capability in the coming week.
Mission control at McMoons - Building 596 - at the NASA Ames Research is a beehive of activity with our software team putting the final touches on the command and control systems we will be using to operate the spacecraft. We are working to configure the building for mission operations this summer and then continued operations once the spacecraft is in its final science orbit.
As for the news coverage - people have noticed - and a lot of this is because of the buzz you have all helped to generate! Visiting the sites below will give you an idea just how popular our project is. We have been on NPR, BBC World Service, and will be on CBS next week - and this is all *before* we make contact!
Once the First Contact efforts and course maneuvers are accomplished we'll get to the task of sending you the gifts that you've earned for you generous support. We'll also be opening up an online store at some point very soon where other ISEE-3 Reboot Project items will be for sale. We'll add a little to the price to help generate a little more 'help' for the team.
In summary - we are honored to have received your support for this project. We are working non-stop to contact and then command the spacecraft. Once we do that then we'll be looking to you to help us make the science data it returns available to anyone, anywhere who wishes to use it.
Soon, ISEE-3 will be doing science again - and YOU made that possible!
Keith Cowing and Dennis Wingo
Co-leads, ISEE-3 Reboot Project