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ICE, Thrice, Maybe

Working inside a very tight time frame, engineers have detected ICE-3, launched in 1978 and re-purposed as a comet chaser while in space, and are investigating whether the doughty craft might yet perform more science. Its suite of a dozen or more plasma and high-energy particle sensors are believed to be functional.

Mortherboard has much more on this fascinating story with a Kentucky twist in its piece, "Everyone But NASA Wants To Wake Up This Long-Dormant Spacecraft."

'It's the most cost-effective spacecraft we ever had and I'd like to make it even more cost-effective. It can do more missions,' said Bob Farquhar, the 'orbit maestro' who originally turned the ISEE-3 into the ICE and got America to a comet before any other country.

Just like in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the space probe is coming home. In August of this year, the ISEE-3/ICE will swing back by the Earth after nearly three decades of large, looping orbits around the Sun. Some believe that ISEE-3/ICE could be recycled again, and go back to being a solar-weather-observation platform, provided its thrusters are fired soon.

The craft was detected last week by the 21-meter steerable radio telescope at Morehead State University, a partner institution of Kentucky Space. The Director of the Space Science Center at MSU, Dr. Ben Malphrus, had this to say:

We are excited that we have been able to detect the deep space bacon from ICE-3- it has been a great test of the sensitivity of our 21 m space tracking antenna since the spacecraft is transmitting only 7 watts and is 34 million kilometers away.
Our goal is to continue to track the spacecraft and work with others to attempt to decode the telemetry to determine the spacecraft's status and that of its science instruments. It is conceivable that it could be redirected and brought back to life to perform some heliophysics observations - but it would be a significant challenge and there are many unknowns as of now. Still, it would be an incredible feat to resurrect a fantastic space mission and is worth investigating.

"CubeSat, PhoneSat, PocketQube, Sprites..."

Josep Saldaña Cavallé has collected a number of terrific videos on the astonishing growth and development of pico- and femtosatellites in the past few years. Give them a watch.

Kentucky Space has played a small role in that growth. Our YouTube Channel is here.

Kentucky Space will also be hosting the first annual PocketQube workshops, which will feature the creator of the Cubesat and PocketQube forms, Morehead State University Professor Bob Twiggs. One will take place on April 17 at NASA Ames, the other on May 14 at Cape Canaveral.

We'll see you there!

Kentucky Space Collecting Beacons, Presenting Papers

Just a couple of updates to share with Kentucky Space readers.

1) Since the launch of KySat-2 in November, over 12,000 beacons have been collected by the KySat-2 teams in Lexington and Morehead, Kentucky, as well as from HAMs from Japan, Australia and Oregon. Wow!

2) Kentucky Space and its partner Morehead State University recently presented three papers at the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Spacecraft Dynamics and Control conference in Rome, Italy. The presentation and papers are listed here:

  • 3D printed parts for CubeSats; experiences from KySat-2 and PrintSat using Windform XT 2.0 Authors: Twyman Clements and Alex Clements and Gil Moore and Jim White and Stewart Davis and Planetary Systems Corp and Dave Klumpar PhD, Nathan Fite and Benjamin Malphrus and James Lumpp PhD Affiliations: Kentucky Space LLC and Helios Space Systems and Project PrintSat and Colorado Satellite Services and CRP Technologies and Planetary Systems Corp and Montana State University and Morehead State University and University of Kentucky
  • CubeSat Orientation Control and Matching to Communications System Requirements Authors: Kevin Brown and Twyman Clements Clements Affiliations: Space Science Center, Morehead State University and Kentucky Space LLC
  • Attitude Determination and Control in the T-LogoQube Picosatellite Mission Authors: Sean McNeil and Garrett Jernigan and Benjamin Malphrus and Kevin Brown and Robert Twiggs and William Roach-Barrett and Kevin Zack and Brian Silverman and Lynn Cominsky Affiliations: Morhead State University and Little H-bar Ranch and Morhead State University and Morhead State University and Morehead State University and Morehead State University and Sonoma State University and Playful Invention Company and Sonoma State University

Twyman Clements, Space Systems Engineer, Kentucky Space

Kentucky Space on Flickr