Long-lost spacecraft that NASA rediscovered this year is incommunicado

The IMAGE spacecraft as seen in 2000, before the launch.


Six months after the NASA last picked up a signal from a long lost spaceship, engineers have been unable to restore communication with the satellite, the agency confirmed in a new statement released yesterday (Aug. 28).

That spacecraft, the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE), launched in 2000, and worked perfectly, until 2005, when the satellite unexpectedly stopped communicating with the Earth. But in January, an amateur astronomer suddenly picked up a signal fine-tuning the spacecraft’s communication system, and NASA later confirmed that it is indeed the long-lost IMAGE.

Since the rediscovery of the engineers of the NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in his attempt to draw a constant line of communication with the spacecraft. That would let engineers evaluate the instruments on board and determine whether it is worth to try to save the spaceship.

And at first, the rescue of the spacecraft seemed plausible: The engineers collected some initial data from the satellite and confirmed the batteries were still working. But at the end of February, the spacecraft broke communication again, and since then, the satellite signal is spotty or non-existent.

More Of

  • But in January

  • NASA later confirmed

Yesterday In the update, the first NASA has, since May, the agency confirmed that the communication problems continue. Engineers have still not managed to lock-in on the lost satellite signal, and the spacecraft is still ignoring all commands to be sent.

During his career, the spacecraft was the first map of the whole magnetosphere, which is the area influenced by the magnetic field of the Earth. The magnetosphere plays a crucial role in protecting the Earth against solar radiation.

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