Washington: A NASA ‘vintage’ spacecraft that was launched 36 years ago and is now being handled by a team of retired and active aerospace engineers has successfully completed a return visit to the earth-moon system.
The ISEE-3 spacecraft made its closest approach to the earth Aug 9 and flyby of the moon Aug 10.
The closest approach was 15,600 km from the moon’s surface.
After a lunar flyby, the unmanned probe has now been hurled back into deep space.
With the lunar flyby, California-based Skycorp Inc and Google Creative Labs have announced a revised mission for ISEE-3, Universe Today reported.
ISEE-3 is currently over 20,000 km from the moon and over 370,000 km from earth.
Launched in 1978 and originally tasked with studying the outer reaches of the earth’s magnetosphere, the probe was given a second mission in the 1980s to chase comets before NASA decided to shut it down in 1997.
In April this year, the private “ISEE-3 Reboot Project” started a crowdfunding project that raised $159,502 for the goal of re-establishing contact with the probe.
In an unprecedented move, NASA formally handed over control of ISEE-3 to the group in May.
In the same month, contact was re-established with the abandoned spacecraft and the group carried out a series of tests after ordering the craft to broadcast telemetry back to earth.
The group has established the ISEE-3 Interplanetary Citizen Science Mission that will allow the public access to the data still being transmitted by the craft as it speeds away from earth, reports added.