A NASA spacecraft has returned to normal after weeks of problems in space.
On March 2, NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) vehicle allowed controllers to reboot the computer, agency officials said on Monday. (will open in a new tab) (March 6), ending three weeks of trouble trying to get to the spacecraft.
The mission team performed a “fire code reset”, or spacecraft external reset, allowing controllers to regain control of the unresponsive spacecraft two full days before IBEX was scheduled to perform an autonomous reset and power down on Saturday (March 4).
Now everything is back to normal, the department added. “IBEX telemetry indicates that the spacecraft is fully operational and functioning normally.”
On the subject: Mysterious energy ribbon at the edge of the solar system – “space road map”
NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer was launched in October 2008 to study the outer edge of the heliosphere, focusing on the “bubble” that represents the boundary between the Sun’s environment and interstellar space.
The spacecraft fully mapped the heliosphere in its first year after launch and acquires images of the entire sky every six months. His most famous discovery is the discovery of a dense region of particles called the IBEX ribbon.
The agency first announced problems with “restoring command capabilities” in late February, but stressed that the spacecraft itself is operational despite an unexpected computer reset and IBEX put into emergency mode. “The flight software is still running and the spacecraft’s systems appear to be functioning,” NASA officials said in a February announcement. 24 updates (will open in a new tab).
IBEX is part of a network of spacecraft that study the solar wind (or the constant stream of particles from our sun) along with the sun itself to better understand how the heliosphere shapes our solar system.
The spacecraft has spent 15 years in space, continuing to operate for more than a decade after the end of its primary mission in 2011.
Elizabeth Howell is co-author of Why Am I Taller? (will open in a new tab)? (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), space medicine book. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or facebook (will open in a new tab).