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A picture of the SOHO flight module going through testing.
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Courtesy of NASA

SOHO - Lost in Space! Updated!
News story originally written on July 17, 1998

It has been almost a month since contact was lost with the European/American SOHO satellite. Radio contact with the $1 billion craft was suddenly lost on June 24th during maintenance operations.

While engineers continue to send commands to SOHO about 12 hours out of the day, no successful contact has been made. Right now, SOHO's solar panels are edge-on towards the Sun. Within three months, the panels should face the Sun more directly. Hopefully at this point enough sunlight will be hitting the panels so that the spacecraft can recharge its batteries, enabling engineers on the ground to re-establish control over the spacecraft.

Dr. George Withbroe, NASA's Director of the Sun-Earth Connections science program said, "In the last two years, SOHO revolutionized our understanding of the Sun in many ways. It was a unique set of instruments devoted to the study of the most important star to us on Earth -- our Sun -- and we are very hopeful that the project engineers will be able to return this world-class observatory to science operations again." SOHO's primary mission from 1995-1997 was extremely successful, but scientists are hoping to regain contact for the solar maximum season. Else, scientists will have to depend on spacecraft like ACE and Ulysses for solar coverage.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA