U.S. space agency NASA said Tuesday a satellite it considered "dead" more than a decade ago was indeed alive.
IMAGE during its construction. Photo: NASA
The identity of the satellite rediscovered on Jan. 20 by an amateur astronomer has been confirmed as NASA's IMAGE satellite, the U.S. space agency said in a statement.
"On the afternoon of Jan. 30, the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland, successfully collected telemetry data from the satellite," it said, adding "the signal showed that the space craft ID was 166 -- the ID for IMAGE."
IMAGE, or Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration, was designed to image the Earth's magnetosphere and produce the first comprehensive global images of the plasma populations in this region.
The satellite was launched on Mar. 25, 2000, and the contact was unexpectedly lost on Dec. 18, 2005. After a 2007 effort failed to induce a reboot, the mission was declared over.
Earlier this month, an amateur astronomer called Scott Tilley wrote on his blog that he picked up a signal from a satellite labeled "2000-017A, 26113" which he knew corresponded to the IMAGE satellite.
NASA said its team has been able to read some basic housekeeping data from the spacecraft, suggesting that at least the main control system is operational.
Next, scientists and engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center will continue to try to analyze the data from the spacecraft to learn more about its condition.
This process will take a week or two as it requires attempting to adapt old software and databases of information to modern systems, NASA added.