Washington: NASA on Wednesday said that at least the main control system of its IMAGE satellite, which was re-discovered by an amateur astronomer on January 20, is operational.
Launched on March 25, 2000, IMAGE, short for Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration, 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, contact was unexpectedly lost on December 18, 2005.
After an amateur astronomer recorded observations of a satellite in high Earth orbit on January 20, 2018, his initial research suggested it was the IMAGE satellite.
NASA has now confirmed the identity of the satellite.
“On the afternoon of January 30, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland, successfully collected telemetry data from the satellite. The signal showed that the space craft ID was 166 — the ID for IMAGE,” NASA said.
The NASA team was been able to read some basic housekeeping data from the spacecraft, suggesting that at least the main control system is operational.
NASA said it will continue to try to analyse the data from the spacecraft to learn more about the state of the spacecraft.
“This process will take a week or two to complete as it requires attempting to adapt old software and databases of information to more modern systems,” the statement added.