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Long ‘lost’ NASA satellite re-discovered

The identity of the satellite re-discovered on January 20 has been confirmed as the Imager for NASA’s Magnetopause-to- Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE).

science Updated: Jan 31, 2018 13:24 IST
The identity of the satellite re-discovered on January 20 has been confirmed as the Imager for NASA’s Magnetopause-to- Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE).
The identity of the satellite re-discovered on January 20 has been confirmed as the Imager for NASA’s Magnetopause-to- Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE).(Photo courtesy: @NASASun)

A NASA satellite considered ‘dead’ for more than a decade has been found to be still functioning, the US space agency said on Wednesday.

The identity of the satellite re-discovered on January 20 has been confirmed as the Imager for NASA’s Magnetopause-to- Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE).

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in the US successfully collected telemetry data from the satellite. The signal showed that the space craft ID was 166 - the ID for IMAGE, NASA said.

The space agency has been able to read some basic housekeeping data from the spacecraft, suggesting that at least the main control system is operational.

Scientists and engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center will continue to try to analyse the data from the spacecraft to learn more about the state of the spacecraft.

After an amateur astronomer recorded observations of a satellite in high Earth orbit on January 20, his initial research suggested it was IMAGE - a NASA mission launched into orbit around Earth on March 25, 2000.

Seeking to ascertain whether the signal indeed came from IMAGE, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center coordinated the use of five separate antennas to acquire radio frequency signals from the object.

IMAGE was designed to image Earth’s magnetosphere and produce the first comprehensive global images of the plasma populations in this region.

After successfully completing and extending its initial two-year mission in 2002, the satellite unexpectedly failed to make contact on a routine pass on December 18, 2005.

After a 2007 eclipse failed to induce a reboot, the mission was declared over.