From: Goddard Space Flight Center
Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
As signal strength improves and data is again captured, IMAGE is not reliably responding to commands.
Since loss of contact on Feb. 24, 2018, IMAGE’s signal has remained too weak to retrieve data.
Just after midnight on May 9, however, Scott Tilley – the amateur astronomer who first rediscovered IMAGE – noticed that the spacecraft unexpectedly began transmitting a strong signal once again.
By morning that day, engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, NASA's White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico, and The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland, had locked on to the signal, and are still receiving telemetry from the spacecraft today.
Commands were successfully sent to IMAGE on May 9 from Wallops Island. However, only a small fraction of the commands sent were acknowledged by the spacecraft. It is unknown why IMAGE did not receive the bulk of them. The spacecraft is still transmitting from its medium-gain antenna, indicating that last month’s attempts to switch to its low-gain omnidirectional antenna were unsuccessful. Since reestablishing contact on May 9, multiple attempts have been made to command IMAGE from the White Sands WS1 antenna without success.
Why the signal faded or why it came back remains a mystery, although current theories include spacecraft attitude drift or thermal effects.
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