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Amateur Astronomer Discovers Long-Dead NASA Satellite Has Come Back To Life (behindtheblack.com) 62

schwit1 shares a report from Behind The Black: In his hunt to locate Zuma, an amateur astronomer has discovered that a long-dead NASA satellite, designed to study the magnetosphere, has come back to life. IMAGE went dead in 2005, and though NASA thought it might come back to life after experiencing a total eclipse in 2007 that would force a reboot, no evidence of life was seen then. It now appears that the satellite came to life sometime between then and 2018, and was chattering away at Earth waiting for a response. NASA is now looking at what it must do to take control of the spacecraft and resume science operations. Zuma is the secret U.S. government payload that was launched by SpaceX earlier this month and reportedly lost. As for why Scott Tilley -- the amateur radio astronomer -- decided to have a look for the present of secret military satellites, Ars Technica reports that he apparently does this semi-regularly as a hobby and, in this case, was inspired by the Zuma satellite.
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Amateur Astronomer Discovers Long-Dead NASA Satellite Has Come Back To Life

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  • Interesting find (Score:5, Informative)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Saturday January 27, 2018 @02:15AM (#56013671) Homepage Journal

    This is a very interesting find.

    Apparently NASA will try to contact [satobs.org] the satellite using the Deep Space Network, and assess it's condition.

    Right now JPL is in the process of digging up the 13-year old "owner's manual" :-)

  • Finding that would be like a shot of Oxi... ohhh the endorphins :P
  • by Anonymous Coward
    masquerading as a long dead NASA satellite.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt.nerdflat@com> on Saturday January 27, 2018 @02:43AM (#56013749) Journal

    I totally misread the headline and thought WTF?

    I first read the headline as: Amateur astronomer discovered long dead by NASA satellite brought back to life.

  • by RhettLivingston ( 544140 ) on Saturday January 27, 2018 @02:53AM (#56013763) Journal

    So, you "lose" your stealth satellite and then suddenly find one that has been dead for over a decade...

    It would likely cost very little more to add the functions of an old satellite to your new stealth satellite's capabilities and duplicate its signals. The real data could be getting sent by laser or other less detectable means. Just saying.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The one they found isn't "stealth" if that's what's confusing you... the one they "lost" was. Detecting satellites that aren't pinging is ~impossible for now.

      "It would likely cost very little more to add the functions of an old satellite to your new stealth satellite's capabilities and duplicate its signals" - oh, ok, you're crazy, I see. That's false in every respect, none the least of which is orbit.

    • The real data could be getting sent by laser or other less detectable means. Just saying.

      The tech to do that reliably was only recently invented, in the last ten years in fact IIRC. So probably not. Just saying.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 27, 2018 @03:16AM (#56013795)

    ... that you will not like what you’d hear.

    That is either because you want to oppress the bearer of the secret,
    or because he wants to harm you.

    Which might both be true at the same time, depending on the perspective.

    I'd say it's pretty clear cut in everything related to spying though.

    Because an enemy is just an ally you failed to win over.

    Which might be, that he's not only a dick to you, but that you're just as much a dick to him, making you exactly the same. (Yep, including the "But my side is more righteous! And he did it first!” arguments. They all believe that.)
    (Or it might be that they're mentally ill... like religious or following any -ism. But so might you. Because the problem with that state is, that one can't tell from the inside.)

    In the end ... I'm just saying: It's a dick move.

  • Amateur Astronomer? (Score:5, Informative)

    by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Saturday January 27, 2018 @04:26AM (#56013905)

    Before all the beards came of age we just called them Ham Radio Operators. They're always raising the level. Glad to see the name promotion and the hobby once again verifying how well spent the frequencies protected and allocated to the service are.

    "Scott Tilley VE7TIL / VA7LF discovered a signal from the IMAGE satellite that NASA lost contact with in 2005"

    http://www.southgatearc.org/ne... [southgatearc.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 27, 2018 @04:52AM (#56013945)

      He could very well be both. Many are. Generally amateur astronomers look at the night sky, focused on things beyond the Earth's atmosphere. We generally look in visible light. I did however, build a 12' satellite dish to make a radio map of the milky way (Hydrogen). I would call that amateur radio astronomy.

      Some amateurs track satellites and compute their orbits in an attempt to identify them. To listen to their transmissions would require the skills of a HAM.

      So, most HAM operators do not posses the skills to track and identify satellites. Most amateur astronomers wouldn't know what to do with a radio transmission from a satellite.

      I think the two nicely overlap here.

  • In the sentence "decided to have a look for the present of secret military satellites", Ed should prolly change "present" to "presence".

  • by MakerDusk ( 2712435 ) on Saturday January 27, 2018 @06:05AM (#56014073)
    We now know its communications specs http://pluto.space.swri.edu/IM... [swri.edu] and as it was made in the year 2000... NASA has most likely already made the communications protocols, if not the software itself, available to the public. NASA also doesn't have a timetable on reaquiring it, its orbit telemetry was linked in a comment, and this community probably has a few people who can slap an arduino based orbital tracking antenna together... but no one here would want a global observatory satillite or offworld server, right?
  • by Depili ( 749436 ) on Saturday January 27, 2018 @06:35AM (#56014117)
    http://www.satobs.org/seesat/J... [satobs.org] Engineers at GSFC have acquired the suspect S-band source using the 4m CTA (Compatibility Test Antenna) here at GSFC (.jpg attached and no I’m not in the picture). They acquired the signal while the target was on ascent at about 2RE. Center frequency (CF) was between 2272.478 and 2273.418. The difference between IMAGE documented CF of 2272.5Mhz can be attributed to expected Doppler. Subcarriers are visible as well 1.7Mhz from CF as expected. The signal strength was oscillating. Plots will be forthcoming. The oscillation is not unexpected given IMAGE’s loss of spin balance. All indications so far suggest that this is, in fact, IMAGE. Richard J. Burley
  • of this amateur astronomer made me wonder what am I doing with my life?

    • Good Morning / afternoon / evening

      It's a hobby for those that are into it, some people are real good.
      this is a write-up back from 2006 that is still valid today.

      https://www.wired.com/2006/02/... [wired.com]

      while it's over my head the skills required
      it's still a ton of fun looking at satellites and such
      http://www.thehumanitystar.com... [thehumanitystar.com] that's the disco ball
      satellite that went up a few days ago and in 41 days it
      will be over my house. I hope to see it with my eyes
      and then binoculars.

  • It's got to be V'Ger
  • by camg188 ( 932324 ) on Saturday January 27, 2018 @12:45PM (#56015223)

    come back to life after experiencing a total eclipse in 2007 that would force a reboot...

    This explains what happened to me after the eclipse last summer.

  • Not sure why "Has come back to life" links to a 1 paragraph blog post, on a page begging for donations no less, than then links to the actual story: https://skyriddles.wordpress.c... [wordpress.com]

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