A Space­craft For All

TechLife Australia - - DISCOVER -

SPACE NERDS CAN WIT­NESS SPACE HIS­TORY, AND MAYBE MAKE THEIR OWN. space­craft­forall.com Launched in 1978, the ISEE-3 space­craft was ini­tially in­tended to study the Sun’s so­lar winds but, de­spite suc­ceed­ing in its mis­sion, it was sac­ri­ficed for a greater pur­pose. Upon dis­cov­er­ing a nearby comet in 1982, the craft was co-opted to fly through the comet’s tail in or­der to col­lect pre­vi­ously undis­cov­ered in­for­ma­tion on the space rock’s ma­te­rial com­po­si­tion. Af­ter­wards, it was left to drift in an or­bit that would even­tu­ally re­turn it to Earth’s or­bit some 30 years later. In 2014, a team re-es­tab­lished con­tact with the satel­lite and sent it a com­mand to once again trans­mit live data from its in­stru­ments. This in­for­ma­tion is be­ing col­lected by the ISEE-3 re­boot team and pub­lished in an in­for­ma­tive and ac­ces­si­ble man­ner on the web­site, A Space­craft For All, for the sake of cit­i­zen sci­ence. The site also in­cludes an in­ter­ac­tive video on the his­tory of the ISEE-3, as well as an artist’s ren­di­tion of its cur­rent po­si­tion in re­la­tion to Earth. While its propul­sion sys­tems are no longer func­tion­ing, the satel­lite will con­tinue beam­ing back data on mag­netic fields, so­lar winds and cos­mic rays un­til it drifts into obliv­ion.

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