NASA has announced this week that they’ve officially gotten back in touch with their STEREO mission following two years of receiving absolutely no signals from the STEREO-B spacecraft. This was one of two spacecraft that operate together to help us observe the Sun in more detail.
Image Credit: NASA
NASA reportedly lost its communications with the STEREO-B spacecraft back in October 14th of 2014, following an attempt to test out a special feature of the spacecraft that would hard-reset its communications instruments if it ever didn’t communicate with Earth for more than 72 hours.
The test is said to have been in preparation for what’s known as Solar conjunction, which is when the spacecraft would have lost its line of sight to Earth due to the Sun getting in the way. On the other hand, things didn’t quite go as expected.
Instead of booting back up and getting back in touch with Earth after the test, we actually lost communication with the spacecraft and NASA has been trying for 22 months to re-establish communication with it.
It would seem that the persistence has paid off, however, as NASA has been able to successfully reconnect with the STEREO-B spacecraft as of August 21st. The space agency locked onto the spacecraft at 6:27 P.M. EDT and things were smooth sailing from there.
NASA reports in a statement that the spacecraft appears to be functioning normally despite the long period of communicationless despair. Further testing will be required to ensure that this is the case. The STEREO-A spacecraft, on the other hand, continues to function normally despite the loss of communication with STEREO-B.
The STEREO mission was launched in 2006 to try and learn more about the Sun’s various phenomena. The two spacecraft are identical to one another and orbit the Sun, imaging the surface and monitoring other aspects of the star to provide us with a clear picture of what’s going on.
Now, the mission may finally be able to get back on track.
Source: NASA, Wikipedia