Click here to the experience the journey of ISEE-3 from 1978 to the present year.
Comet Chaser – 1982
In 1982, ISEE-3 was assigned to chase a comet and became the first spacecraft ever to fly in the talil of a comet. In the same year a complicated maneuver removed the ISEE-3 from its halo orbit for the new mission.
Since only a small amount of fuel was on board, scientists instead catapulted it around Earth, past the L2 Lagrange Point and several flybys of the Moon using gravity assist to eject it out into space. This transfer orbit was the first of its kind in space flight.
For years the spacecraft studied Coronal mass ejections from the Sun. But by 1995 it was being operated under only a low duty cycle, no longer on an official mission. And only a few years later, it was deactivated entirely, with only a carrier signal left operating.
Contact [Reboot Project]-2014
In 2014 Dennis Wingo and Keith Cowing formed the ISEE-3 Reboot Project , a crowdfunded effort to attempt to get in contact and gain control of the decommissioned spacecraft for the benefit of citizen science. The team raised almost $160,000 in funding, and assembled top space experts for the cause.
They sent a signal from Arecibo Observatory, the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope. Since the spacecraft was from the ‘70’s, they had to build a custom software defined radio capable of speaking to the outdated telemetry. In May 2014, they began successfully communicating with the spacecraft in advance of its August 10th lunar flyby.
Behind the scenes
“A Spacecraft for All” is an interactive documentary combining film and 3D graphics, allowing you to follow the spacecraft’s story as you trace it along its entire 36 year journey. Along the way, you can encounter orbits and comets in unique interactive experiences, so you can learn about the amazing space principles the spacecraft helped us understand. The story tracks the spacecraft through its early years all the way up to its actual position in 2014, culminating on August 10th, 2014, in a live event 30 billion miles in the making – when it makes its long-awaited lunar flyby of the Moon – and you can follow it live in our lunar flyby demo alongside Project Reboot’s team and the rest of the world.
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Hope you enjoyed it!