SOHO back on track

23 September 1998

After six weeks lost in space,
Solar and
Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has been found.
The $1 billion satellite was located when it reflected a signal sent into space by the
Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.

a NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) collaboration,
span out of control on 25 June leaving its solar panels almost edge-on to the
Sun and
unable to generate power.
Since then the
panels’ position relative to the
Sun has slowly changed and
now engineers are able to communicate with the
satellite for short periods.

ESA and NASA engineers are working hard to reheat the craft. They need to find a way of storing enough energy in the batteries to unfreeze the fuel tanks so the thrusters can be used to turn the solar panels into the Sun.

SOHO has proved a very popular and versatile observatory. It houses 12 different instruments which have been used to study solar physics and the solar wind. “The mission is in a class of its own,
” says Giacomo Cavallo,
head of science programmes at ESA.

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