Washington, May 31 :
A “vintage” sun explorer NASA spacecraft lost in space early in 1980s has now been established contact with by a group of private space science enthusiasts.
“Our team has established two-way communication with the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) spacecraft and has begun commanding it to perform specific functions,” scientists associated with the “ISEE-3 Reboot Project” were quoted as saying.
In 1982, the ISEE-3 satellite was pulled away from its solar mission and joined a mini international race to make the first encounter with Halley’s comet.
The satellite was renamed as the International Cometary Explorer (ICE) that inspected Halley’s comet in 1986.
In March, radio astronomers tracked the spacecraft and its trajectory – raising hopes that the mission could be brought back to life, media reports said.
Now, almost 35 years later, the private ‘ISEE-3 Reboot Project’ has gained control of ISEE-3’s data multiplexers and are in the process of studying data received from the spacecraft.
The team made contact with the probe via the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico.
“Over the coming days, our team will make an assessment of the spacecraft’s overall health and refine the techniques required to fire its engines and bring it back to an orbit near earth,” scientists added.
If the data and “health” of the spacecraft are satisfactory, the team plans to control the probe in collaboration with the scientists over at Arecibo – setting it off on a new sun observation mission.