After nearly two years of searching NASA has reestablished contact with its sun studying satellite, STEREO-B spacecraft. Which went missing on October 1, 2014 after losing contact with the team back on Earth. At 6:27 p.m. ET, NASA received a downlink signal from the spacecraft using the ground-based communication antennas in the Deep Space Network.
The STEREO Missions Operations team still need to figure out if the spacecraft is healthy and capable of carrying on with its solar research after being unable to communicate with its home planet for such a long time, but the fact that it’s in touch at all is promising.
This signal from STEREO-B provided NASA with valuable information about the spacecraft’s position.
Here’s the full statement from Karen C. Fox, a NASA spokesperson:
“On Aug. 21, 2016, contact was reestablished with one of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatories, known as the STEREO-B spacecraft, after communications were lost on Oct. 1, 2014. Over 22 months, the STEREO team has worked to attempt contact with the spacecraft. Most recently, they have attempted a monthly recovery operation using NASA’s Deep Space Network, or DSN, which tracks and communicates with missions throughout space.
“The DSN established a lock on the STEREO-B downlink carrier at 6:27 p.m. EDT. The downlink signal was monitored by the Mission Operations team over several hours to characterize the attitude of the spacecraft and then transmitter high voltage was powered down to save battery power. The STEREO Missions Operations team plans further recovery processes to assess observatory health, re-establish attitude control, and evaluate all subsystems and instruments.
“Communications with STEREO-B were lost during a test of the spacecraft’s command loss timer, a hard reset that is triggered after the spacecraft goes without communications from Earth for 72 hours. The STEREO team was testing this function in preparation for something known as solar conjunction, when STEREO-B’s line of sight to Earth – and therefore all communication – was blocked by the sun.
“STEREO-A continues to work normally.”
This STEREO-B spacecraft were launched Wednesday, October 25th, 2006 at 8:52 p.m. EDT on a Delta II 7925-10L rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida along with STEREO-A. According to NASA.