IMAGE’s signal remains too weak to achieve frame lock, which is necessary to retrieve data from the spacecraft. But important steps have been taken this week to be prepared in case of re-established contact.
Last week, the engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, successfully established network connections with both the antennas at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and at the agency’s White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico. These antennae are now prepared to both command and receive telemetry data from IMAGE, if the spacecraft is re-contacted.
These preparations are necessary for the team, led by former IMAGE mission director Richard Burley, to attempt to command IMAGE to switch from its current medium gain antennae to its omnidirectional antennae, which has a weaker signal but a wider footprint. The team hopes to be able to lock onto this broader signal, which would lay the groundwork for reestablishing contact, retrieving data and attempting to restore IMAGE to full working capacity.