Science and Exploration

ISEE-3 Reboot Project Near Term Objectives

By Keith Cowing
May 5, 2014
Filed under ,
ISEE-3 Reboot Project Near Term Objectives
ISEE-3 Flies Past The Moon
Mark Maxwell, ISEE-3 Reboot Project

Dennis Wingo: : The ISEE-3 Reboot project is an effort to contact, evaluate, command, and place back into  operation in an Earth orbit the International Sun-Earth Explorer #3 (ISEE-3) spacecraft.
In 1978 the ISEE-3 spacecraft was launched as part of a trio of spacecraft to monitor and understand the properties of the Earth’s magnetosphere (the Earth’s magnetic field) as it relates to how it is influenced by the various forms of radiation emitted by the Sun.  ISEE-3 basically wrote the book and invented the term heliophysics.  Later the spacecraft was renamed the International Cometary Explorer (ICE) and was the first to visit a comet (Gaicobini-Zinner on Sept 11, 1985), and Halley’s comet on March 28th of 1986.

In 2014 this venerable spacecraft returns to Earth’s orbit and our primary objective is to regain control of the spacecraft and command its engines to fire on a trajectory that will result in a capture into a permanent Earth orbit.  Following this, we hope to return the spacecraft to science operations, using its instruments as they were originally designed.  The data from the spacecraft will be open to the public and will be used by the heliophysics community and will be a tool for teaching operations and science data gathering from a spacecraft by students and the public.  In the following sections we will detail the engineering objectives of the project until it is in its final Earth orbit.

Engineering Objectives for the Recovery of ISEE-3

Problem Statement

Figure 1 shows the trajectory of the ICE/ISEE-3 spacecraft from its last propulsive maneuvers in 1986 until its return to the Earth in 2014:

Figure 1: ICE/IESS-3 Trajectory Through August 10, 2014 (Tick Marks are 14 Day Intervals)

NASA has gotten rid of all of the hardware that understood how to talk to ISEE-3 around 1999.  The spacecraft was last commanded in 1986 or 1987.  The last time it was listened to, with a carrier only, was in 1999 and 2008.  Also, NASA has determined that it does not have the funding to recover the spacecraft and thus on April 12, 2014 the ISEE-3 Reboot Project was born.

Full story at Space College

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.