Rebooted Spacecraft to Tackle Interplanetary Science (Page 2)


Cowing pledged the data will be "semi-live," depending on how much processing it will take for the data to be useable after being picked up by the dish. Already, the spacecraft's magnetometer has picked up disturbances in space that can be linked back to solar activity.

The science campaign is slated to begin Aug. 10, when ISEE-3 swings by the moon, and will continue for as much of its orbit as can be heard from Earth. ISEE-3 will travel in a 300-day orbit around the sun, but the final coordinates are still being determined.

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Cowing added that the group will publicize the results of the science with external entities, and those partnerships will be announced shortly.

Funding a Volunteer Space Mission

As for the $160,000 raised through RocketHub, Cowing said it's just about gone. The money went to renting time on NASA's Deep Space Network of dishes, flying four people to the giant Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico for a week to set up communications, and other miscellaneous costs.

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There are perhaps a couple of more transmission sessions set up to talk with ISEE-3 to configure it for science, then the group will switch to more listening to keep costs lower. The group has authorization from NASA under a Space Act Agreement to do communications, which Cowing expects will be kept open as need arises.

But it's the citizen science that will be the focus from now, which Cowing said will allow others to have more "hands-on" participation in space exploration. "That potential is actually the most important thing to result from this," he said, adding he expects to operate the spacecraft for at least five to 10 years if all of its systems stay healthy.

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