"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."