NASA's ISEE-3 was launched in 1977 and sent data home for 20 years. Recently, NASA discovered the abandoned satellite is still transmitting data, and turned over the controls to a group of citizen scientists. ISEE-3 zooms by the moon tomorrow, and thanks to a new Google project, you can ride along at home.
When citizen scientists first discovered that ISEE-3 was still out there transmitting data, they put together a crowdfunding project and took over
an abandoned McDonalds a former McDonalds at NASA's Ames Research Facility, hoping to regain control of the satellite's flight path and send it on new missions. Unfortunately, ISEE-3's propulsion systems are shot.
But ISEE-3 is still transmitting data and this weekend the lonely capsule will swing past the moon and wave at earth for the first time in decades. And thanks to the Google Chrome experiment A Spacecraft For All, regular old folks like you and me can tap into ISEE-3's data feeds and watch live as it cruises through the old neighbourhood.
The real action happens tomorrow — 11 August at 3:30am — with a live lunar fly-by demo, interviews with the original NASA scientists and the Reboot team now monitoring ISEE-3, and a real-time data feed. But Google's deeply-interactive website for the prodigal satellite has plenty of cool stuff to play with today, whether it's learning about the history of ISEE-3 or watching the live data it's constantly beaming down. Perhaps not surprisingly, this Google Chrome project only works in Google Chrome — sorry, Firefox and IE users.