NASA Just Made Contact With the Long-Lost STEREO Spacecraft

Tuesday, 23 August 2016 - 11:41AM
Space
Tuesday, 23 August 2016 - 11:41AM
NASA Just Made Contact With the Long-Lost STEREO Spacecraft
On October 1, 2014, NASA lost contact with the STEREO-B spacecraft during a routine test of the "hard reset" of the probe's automated system. The craft was radio silent for almost two years, but then finally re-established contact two days ago, on August 21.

The STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) mission has been observing the sun since 2006, providing us with stereoscopic images of phenomena like coronal mass ejections, eclipses, and sunspots. Stereoscopic images are made possible by sending multiple spacecrafts into different points along Earth's orbit, but far away from Earth's actual orbit, so they can take pictures of the sun that can't be seen from Earth.

STEREO-A has been working normally ever since it launched, but when STEREO-B lost contact, NASA scientists thought it had started spinning during its reset, losing the ability to absorb enough solar power to function. They never gave up hope, however, and have been attempting to re-establish contact over the last 22 months. Then, on August 21 at 6:27pm EDT, NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) finally established a lock on STEREO-B, and were able to communicate for several hours before it was powered down to save battery.

NASA is currently conducting more tests and observations to assess the health of the observatory and the instruments. Both spacecrafts will begin to approach Earth again, with the closest approach in 2023, but will not be recaptured into Earth's orbit.
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NASA
Space