thebigh - may 10, 2014
ISEE-3 Reboot Program
I just read about this plan to re-activate an old space probe and get it doing real science again: http://spacecollege.org/isee3/
ISEE-3 is a distinguished 1970s probe originally designed for solar physics. In the early 1980s it was re-directed to fly through the tail of a comet, which made it the first spacecraft to encounter a comet. It beat the Halley Armada by a couple of months. After that they put it into a looping orbit that would bring it back to Earth's vicinity in 2014. Unfortunately, NASA decided to abandon the mission in the 90s after some pretty impressive solar science, leaving ISEE-3 (still in good condition) in hibernation.
Now a group of amateurs and ex-NASA people are trying to recover and reactivate it, using new equipment and new software to replace stuff NASA threw out years ago. The idea is to see if the probe can still be given commands and, if so, put it back in its original orbit at the Earth-Sun L1 point. So far they have confirmed the spacecraft is still emitting its beacon signal. If all goes well, and ISEE-3's science instruments still work, then all the data it produces from now on will be made public immediately. That will be good for research because, even though the equipment is somewhat elderly, it can still produce very credible science.
I just think it's a cool idea and a great story.