A satellite that went missing more than a decade ago has suddenly been found, and it may still be useful to science.
Scientists have just made an extraordinary discovery of an object circling the Earth, specifically a NASA satellite that the agency lost contact with entirely back in 2005. NASA’s ground control did not receive the telemetry signals they expected to from the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration or IMAGE back on Dec. 18, 2005, and had all but given it up for being lost forever.
Scientists attributed the failure to an “instant trip” of the controller that could have interrupted power supply to the transponder on the satellite. But suddenly, an amateur astronomer who was not even lnooking for it discovered that it is still actually broadcasting and we did not even realize it.
That astronomer, Scott Tilley, wrote a blog post describing the incredible fine. He had been searching High Earth Orbit for signs of the Zuma satellite, but detected signals from a satellite known as as 2000-017A, the IMAGE satellite, instead. He gathered more data to confirmed this incredible discovery, and contacted the principal investor of IMAGE.
“Over the past week the station has been dedicated to an S-band scan looking for new targets and refreshing the frequency list, triggered by the recent launch of the mysterious ZUMA mission,” Tilley wrote on his blog. “This tends to be a semi-annual activity as it can eat up a lot of observing resources even with much of the data gathering automated the data reviewing is tedious.”