Lost-in-Space Craft Found by Stellar Harris Team
Nearly two years after NASA lost all communication with the STEREO-B spacecraft, Harris personnel on the Deep Space Network (DSN) team established a lock on the craft’s signal in August 2016 to amazement and accolades from across the space community.
Contact with STEREO-B, which operates in tandem with sister-craft STEREO-A to study the sun, was lost during a test of one of its timers in 2014.
STEREO-B's signal was detected during the team's persistent monthly recovery operations using the DSN's 70-meter antenna, DSS-14, at the Goldstone complex in California. DSS-14 locked-on to the spacecraft's 25-kHz emergency frequency transmission from its "low gain antenna", as the team had anticipated.
To accurately predict where to point a 70-meter antenna with an acutely narrow beam-width two years post knowing STEREO-B's last true position may be shy of a miracle, but sure is a testament to human ingenuity, the accuracy of physics and the tenacity of the Harris team that continued attempts to re-establish contact with the spacecraft.
While some considered their STEREO-B recovery colleagues to be "reality deniers,” the team’s persistence and expertise delivered stellar results, surprising all who thought the mission a lost cause.
Click here to view CNN's coverage of this compelling story.