Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

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NASA Re-establishes Contact With STEREO B Spacecraft

Posted: August 25, 2016

NASA Re-establishes Contact With STEREO B Spacecraft STEREO Orbits (image: NASA)

This past Sunday, August 21, contact was reestablished with one of NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatories, known as the STEREO-B spacecraft. Communications with the craft were lost on Oct. 1, 2014 during routine testing. For the past 22 months, the STEREO team has worked to attempt contact with the spacecraft using NASA's Deep Space Network, or DSN, which tracks and communicates with missions throughout space. 

Climate & Space Professor Tamas Gombosi, Co-Investigator of the STEREO mission’s IMPACT instrument suite, said, “This is potentially great news for space physics.” Currently, the STEREO Missions Operations team is working to further evaluate the observatory’s system and instrument functionality, and re-establish attitude control.

STEREO consists of two space-based observatories - one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind (STEREO Ahead & STEREO Behind).  With this new pair of viewpoints, scientists will be able to see the structure and evolution of solar storms as they blast from the Sun and move out through space.

Launched in 2006, the STEREO mission achieved its prime science goals within the two-year prime mission. Professor Gombosi says scientists are pleased with the mission’s longevity: “It was planned for 3 years…so it’s lived three times longer.” STEREO continues to explore solar and heliospheric activity through the current solar maximum and beyond, providing our only views of the far side of the Sun.

Read more about the STEREO mission here.

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