NASA Finds Lost Spacecraft After 2 Years
NASA has recovered a spacecraft that’s been missing for almost two years.
The craft is known as Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatories (STEREO) and was part of a mission to view the sun from vantage points on the other side of the star from Earth.
STEREO B, lost contact with Earth in October 2014, but the team on the ground never gave up hope they could one day reestablish a connection.
Their latest attempt to find the spacecraft was through a monthly recovery operation using NASA’s Deep Space Network. The DSN is an international network of large radio antennas which is mainly used for communicating with NASA spacecraft and it was able to lock onto STEREO B’s downlink carrier at 6.27pm EDT on Sunday.
Once the team made contact, they spent several hours figuring out information on the craft, before powering the transmitter down to save the battery.
“The STEREO Missions Operations team plans further recovery processes to assess observatory health, re-establish attitude control, and evaluate all subsystems and instruments,” NASA said in a statement, adding that STEREO-A still continues to work normally.
STEREO-A and STEREO-B were launched by NASA in 2006 to better understand solar outbursts. STEREO-A was positioned ahead of the earth, whereas STEREO-B was launched behind the earth. Communications with STEREO-B were lost when scientists were testing this function to prepare the spacecraft for solar conjunction, an incident when STEREO-B’s line of sight to Earth — as well as all communication — was blocked by the sun.
STEREO A, has been working providing the first ever stereoscopic measurements to study the Sun and space weather.