ISEE-3

Back in early March, I posted comic #1337, Hack, about a wayward spacecraft. ISEE-3/ICE was returning to fly past Earth after many decades of wandering through space. It was still operational, and could potentially be sent on a new mission, but NASA no longer had the equipment to talk to it—and announced that reconstructing the equipment would be too difficult and expensive.

ISEE-3 is just a machine, but it’s a machine we sent on an incredible journey; to have it return home to find our door closed seemed sad to me. In my comic, I imagined a group of internet space enthusiasts banding together to find a way to take control of the probe—although I figured this was just a hopeful fantasy.

I wasn’t the only one who liked the idea of “rescuing” ISEE-3. In April, Dennis Wingo and Keith Cowing put up a crowdfunding project on RocketHub to try to learn how the lost communications systems worked, reconstruct working versions of them, obtain use of a powerful enough antenna, and commandeer the spacecraft. It seemed like an awfully long shot, but I contributed anyway.

Well, yesterday, Cowing and his team announced, from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, that they are now in command of the ISEE-3 spacecraft.

Congratulations to the team, and good luck with your new spaceship! Watch out for hackers.

60 thoughts on “ISEE-3

  1. Even though this has nothing to do with the blog post, at the Google Picnic this year they had the human hamster balls. They gave it some weird name, but everyone knew what they really were.

  2. This is a bit off topic, but did you know that what-if #104; Global Snow, marked the 2 year mark of xkcd: what if!

  3. HI, thanks. I’m an italian guy with with a strange curiosity but i don’t know how to solve it (it’s not sexual matter). If you could compress at his physics limit the entire atmosphere, how much room would it take? Thank for the reply
    C.

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