A picture of the SOHO flight module going through testing.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA
SOHO - Lost in Space!
News story originally written on July 3, 1998
Contact has been lost with the European/American SOHO satellite for over a week. Radio contact with the $1 billion craft was suddenly lost on June 24th during maintenance operations. Engineers are trying to reestablish contact with SOHO by sending signals once per minute using NASA's DSN (Deep Space Network).
It is likely that SOHO is spinning through space in a such a way that its solar panels are not getting the sunlight exposure they need to repower the spacecraft for realignment. If this is all that is wrong, the solar panels may be exposed to an increasing amount of sunlight each day as it orbits the Sun, and in a few weeks enough sunlight will be hitting the panels, and the spacecraft will be able to recharge its batteries.
"We are not certain about what went wrong,"said William Poland, mission scientist for the SOHO mission. He said that engineers were trying to restore communication with SOHO but, "There is a real fear that we won't get it back."
SOHO is a joint project of NASA and ESA. Its 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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