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Friday, June 27, 2014

A Retired Satellite Gets Back To Work

This 1976 photo shows the International Sun-Earth Explorer C (ISEE-3, ICE) undergoing testing in the Goddard Space Flight Center's dynamic test chamber. (Wikimedia Commons)

This 1976 photo shows the International Sun-Earth Explorer C (ISEE-3, ICE) undergoing testing in the Goddard Space Flight Center’s dynamic test chamber. (Wikimedia Commons)

After 31 years in space, ISEE-3 is finally coming home.

The International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 was a humble satellite launched in the late 1970s to monitor solar winds – until Robert Farquhar commandeered and reprogrammed it to help the United States become the first country to encounter a comet.

Now, a team of scientists have come together in an unofficial effort to awaken the sleeping spacecraft and return it to its original spot — and function — by combining old technology with new.

Next week, if all goes well, the team will command the satellite to fire its engines once again to orbit the Earth and monitor the Earth’s weather.

NPR’s Nell Greenfieldboyce speaks with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson about Farquhar’s efforts in the 1970s and now.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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