36 year old ISEE-3 Spacecraft successfully awoken by amateur team

Posted: May 30, 2014 by tchannon in People power

Image

This is a plot of signal received from the satellite and an overlay of the theoretic signal. Carrier (the spike) and modulation sidebands. The frequency will move with time because of doppler, spacecraft and earth are moving relative to each other.

This is a comment made at WUWT by a team member

denniswingo says:
May 29, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Just came down from off the dome at the telescope. Thanks for all your support! I will put together a more comprehensive article over the weekend.

Just FYI, both transmitters on the spacecraft have been commanded into engineering telemetry mode and we are receiving data.

Snippets, they are trying to act before lunar impact is likely; the spacecraft is not where it was supposed to be but there are no details on by how much or why.

Project website article

We Are Now In Command of the ISEE-3 Spacecraft

Old equipment often lives a long time but in space this is a tribute to great caution and care by the designers and builders. In this case the earth equipment no longer existed so something workable had to be jury rigged. (JR can be enormous fun if it works)

Radiation damage is going on all the time with the electronics, a major problem in space, why the four solar maximum get mentioned.

The next step is wish vast luck there are no major faults in the spacecraft. Power is there so the solar panels have survive micrometeorite damage and surface scouring can’t be too bad. Propellant tanks etc., remains to be seen.

The Talkshop sends wishes so if anyone can help them please do.

Post by Tim

Comments
  1. lorne50 says:

    Now what can with do with this investment ?

  2. tchannon says:

    Err… err…. that question, wots it for?

    Like a lot of things little of a direct nature. There will be learning about for real. People will be brought into contact, has all sorts of effects.

    I can see this leading to handing over control of more end of service facilities. What people will dream up as investigations, who knows.

  3. gallopingcamel says:

    You have to love this. Somehow NASA could not find a million dollars so a bunch of amateurs fixed things at no cost to the taxpayer.

  4. tchannon says:

    Plus I suspect a raft of goodwill work by various companies and public organisations. NASA would have been charged full whack.

    Simply a report on the state of the craft after all these years has considerable value.

    I reckon one or two will get a job out of this. See people for real.

  5. kuhnkat says:

    “Now what can with do with this investment ?”

    From http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/heasarc/missions/isee3.html

    * Instrumentation
    The University of California put an X-ray Spectrometer aboard ISEE-3. It was designed to study both solar flares and cosmic gamma-ray bursts over the energy range 5-228 keV. The detector provided full-time coverage, 3-pi sr field of view for E > 130 keV, time resolution of 0.25 ms, and absolute timing to within 1 ms. It was intended to be a part of a long baseline interferometry network of widely separated spacecraft. The efforts were aimed primarily at determining the origin of the bursts through precise directional information established by such a network. The experiment consisted of 2 cylindrical X-ray detectors: a Xenon filled proportional counter covering 5-14 keV, and a NaI(Tl) scintillator covering 12-1250 keV. The proportional counter was 1.27 cm in diameter and was filled with a mixture of 97% Xenon and 3% carbon dioxide. The central part of the counter body was made of 0.51 mm thick beryllium and served as the X-ray entrance window. The scintillator consisted of a 1.0 cm thick cylindrical shell of NaI(Tl) crystal surrounded on all sides by 0.3 cm thick plastic scintillator. The central region, 4.1 cm in diameter, was filled by a quartz light pipe. The whole assembly was enclosed (except for one end) in a 0.1 cm thick beryllium container. The energy channel resolution and timing resolution could be selected by commands sent to the spacecraft. The proportional counter could have up to 9 channels with 0.5 s resolution; the NaI scintillator could have up to 16 channels and 0.00025 s resolution. The gamma-ray burst mode was triggered by two simultaneous conditions: the count rates in certain PHA channels rose above a selected level and the spectral hardness of incident photons as determined by the ratio of 2 selected PHA channels exceeded a certain value.
    Also aboard ISEE-3 was the Goddard Gamma-Ray Burst Spectrometer. This instrument represented the first successful flight of a high purity germanium detector on a satellite. It provided an order of magnitude improvement in the measurement of spectral properties of gamma-ray bursts than any previously flown detector.

    The germanium detector was a high purity 4.02 x 2.9 cm right circular cylinder. The total germanium volume was 35 cu-cm. The detector was hermetically sealed in a Mg enclosure, which also provided the radiative surface for cooling. This structure reached a temperature of 130K roughly 3 days after launch and remained stable at that value for over a year. The detector system had a resolution of 10 keV at 570 keV and had 4096 energy channels. It operated in the range 200 keV – 3 MeV. The nominal time resolution was an 8 ms spectral data integration.

  6. gallopingcamel says:

    kuhnkat,

    For that long baseline interferometer to work there has to be at least one more detector.

    How many such detectors are there?

  7. tchannon says:

    “The germanium detector was a high purity 4.02 x 2.9 cm right circular cylinder. The total germanium volume was 35 cu-cm. The detector was hermetically sealed in a Mg enclosure, which also provided the radiative surface for cooling. This structure reached a temperature of 130K roughly 3 days after launch and remained stable at that value for over a year.”

    Two points here

    1. Is this a cryogenic device therefore it long lost cooling?

    2. Semiconductor detectors are radiation degraded. What state is it in?

    If the bird is alive the state of the detector is of great theoretic interest
    See this 1978 paper which at the end mentions space missions.
    http://escholarship.org/uc/item/9vn5r41h

  8. kuhnkat says:

    tchannon, if you have access maybe this would have the info:

    For instrument descriptions written by the investigators, see IEEE Trans. on Geosci. Electron., v. GE-16, no. 3, July 1978.

    The first paragraph in this paper states it is radiatively cooled:

    http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19800017753.pdf

    It doesn’t seem unreasonable that just shielding the instrument from direct radiation from the sun would allow it to cool to a useable temp.

    Another helpful doc:

    http://voyager.gsfc.nasa.gov/Library/Isee-3_Gamma_Ray_Burst_Exp.pdf

    “A cross-sectional view of the Germanium detector mounted i n its
    cooler is presented i n Figure 2 . Its basic structure is divided i n t o
    two parts–an inner and outer stage. The outer stage is designed
    to operate a t an intermediate temperature (%160°K), and thereby
    provide a thermal buffer between the sensor (residing i n the inner
    stage) and the spacecraft. The Germanium crystal i s housed i n the
    inner stage of the cooler i n a hermetically-sealed Magnesium enclosure.
    The exposed surface is coated w i t h a h i ghly-emissi ve white paint to
    allow efficient radiation o f heat. The inner stage is mechanically
    supported i n a similar fashion to the outer stage so t h a t a second level
    of thermal isolation is attained. The predicted equilibrium operating
    temperature of the inner stage is 1 O’K (-1 73OC) (see Figure 3).”

    That last line would be “100k(-173c)”.

  9. kuhnkat says:

    Here is a list of the last known status of the experiments:

    gallopingcamel, the other detectors would have been on isee-1&2

    ” It was intended to be a part of a long baseline interferometry network of widely separated spacecraft. ”

    Without the other spacecraft this may be the one experiment they consider dead.