More reports on: Space missions

NASA to revive lost and found satellite IMAGE

31 January 2018

NASA has announced it will try to revive a ''zombie satellite'' IMAGE, which was found to be working by an amateur satellite spotter.

Magnetosphere scanner IMAGE went silent in 2005 and was given up for dead. But a skywatcher looking for the US military's failed Zuma satellite caught a signal from the missing satellite.

The Register, which reported the development on Monday, said the rediscovery has been tentatively confirmed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, adding that it would use the Deep Space Network to verify the observation.

Meanwhile, Goddard authorities have tentatively confirmed the IMAGE in up there. In an update on Monday, the US space agency said ''observations from all five sites were consistent with the radio frequency characteristics expected of IMAGE. Specifically, the radio frequency showed a spike at the expected center frequency, as well as side bands where they should be for IMAGE.''

According to commentators, the scientists at Goddard would need to undertake what the agency called ''significant reverse-engineering'' to capture and analyse the probe's communications.

''The challenge to decoding the signal is primarily technical,'' the announcement explained. ''The types of hardware and operating systems used in the IMAGE Mission Operations Centre no longer exist, and other systems have been updated several versions beyond what they were at the time.''

The spacecraft spent five years studying the earth's magnetosphere.

Amateur astronomer Scott Tilley, was scanning the S-band frequency range for the US government spy satellite which reportedly failed to reach orbit this month after launch from Cape Canaveral by a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster.

"I did a little Googling and discovered that it had been 'Lost in Space' since December 18, 2005 after just dropping off the grid suddenly," Tilley wrote in a blog post relating the discovery.

"NASA considered the spacecraft a total loss due to a design flaw that manifested while the spacecraft was in its extended mission," he wrote.

"The NASA failure review did however conclude that it was possible for the spacecraft to be revived by permitting a 'Transponder SSPC reset' after it passed through eclipse in 2007. One must assume that didn't occur in 2007 and they gave up," he wrote.

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