STEREO-B contacts NASA after about Two Years, Thanks to Deep Space Network

STEREO-B contacts NASA after about Two Years, Thanks to Deep Space Network

It may seem like a story of a sci-fi movie, but a long-lost spacecraft has suddenly contacted its ground-based controllers after a gap of about two years. The spacecraft,STEREO-B, has once again established a connection with NASA.

STEREO-B was launched as part of NASA’sSolar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission, which was launched in 2006 in orbits around the sun. Mission controllers at the space agency couldn’t contact theSTEREO-B spacecraft after October 1, 2014. Since then, they were trying to make a connection with it. They tasted success on Sunday (August 21) when they successfully contacted the spacecraft again.

Efforts of 22 months didn’t go in vain and STEREO-B again sent signals to controllers, thanks to NASA’s Deep Space Network, which helped in finding the craft.Deep Space Network is a tool that has the special ability to monitoring space missions launched by the NASA.

About a decade ago, NASA launched its two-year-long solar observation mission, STEREO. Under the mission, two identical spacecraft- STEREO-A and STEREO-B- left the ground with an aim to collect data on energy coming from the sun.

The mission team noticed that one of the STEREO mission spacecraft were going in the opposite side of the sun from earth, which means it would not be possible to contact it for at least 90 days.

“The sun emits strongly in nearly every wavelength. Most deep space missions only have to deal with sun interference for a day or so, but for each of the STEREO spacecraft, this period lasted nearly four months”, saidDan Ossing of the STEREO mission.

To solve the problem, the controllers decided to make a connection with STEREO-B during its reset stage, which is of 72 hours. Design of the spacecraft makes it necessary to reset after the reset stage. Initially, they received weak signal, and then, they lost the spacecraft.


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