Aug 01, 2014 I Tom Head

Resurrected ISEE-3 Probe to Listen for Gamma-Ray Bursts

So if you’ve been vaguely following the crowdsourced civilian effort to recontact the long-dormant ISEE-3/ICE probe and put it back into commission, I’ve got some very good news and some mildly bad news.

The very good news is that they’ve made contact with the craft and learned that it's still operational. And they recorded that moment for posterity:


The mildly bad news is that the ISEE-3/ICE doesn’t have enough propellant to push itself into the originally planned L1 solar orbit. Instead, ISEE-3 will become an interplanetary listening station for gamma-ray bursts, which is in many respects a sexier, more cutting-edge mission anyway.

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project has been a huge success; a plucky group of young civilian scientists has rescued an obsolete probe after 17 years of hibernation and put it to work on something useful again, and NASA has come out of this looking a whole lot more reasonable and a whole lot less wasteful. It’s a win-win, by any standard.

Tom Head

Tom Head is an author or coauthor of 29 nonfiction books, columnist, scriptwriter, research paralegal, occasional hellraiser, and proud Jackson native. His book Possessions and Exorcisms (Fact or Fiction?) covers the recent demand for exorcists over the past 30 years and demonic possession.

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