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Satellite Missions Catalogue


Nov 26, 2014






Quick facts


Mission typeNon-EO
Launch date12 Aug 1978
End of life date05 May 1997

ISEE-3 / ICE (International Cometary Explorer) mission

Overview    Spacecraft    Launch    Mission Status    Sensor Complement   References

ISEE-3 was the third of three ISEE (International Sun-Earth Explorer) mission, designed and operated by NASA in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency). NASA built the first and third spacecraft, while ESA built the second. The three spacecraft were to simultaneously investigate a wide range of phenomena in interplanetary space. The project scientist of ISEE-3 was Keith W. Ogilvie of NASA/GSFC. 1) 2)

The objectives of the IEEE-3 mission were:

• To investigate solar-terrestrial relationships at the outermost boundaries of the Earth's magnetosphere

• To examine in detail the structure of the solar wind near the Earth and the shock wave that forms the interface between the solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere

• To investigate motions of and mechanisms operating in the plasma sheets

• To continue the investigation of cosmic rays and solar flare emissions in the interplanetary region near 1 AU.


The ISEE-3 spacecraft had two 3 m booms for the magnetometer and plasma wave sensors, and four 49 m wire antennas for radio and plasma wave studies. The drum-shaped spacecraft was spin-stabilized with a nominal spin rate of 20 rpm. A pair of sun sensors provided an attitude knowledge of ~0.1o. A hydrazine propulsion system was used for attitude and ?V maneuvers. There are 12 thrusters, four radial, four spin-change, two upper-axial, and two lower-axial. Eight conospherical tanks held 89 kg of hydrazine at launch, providing a total ?V capacity of about 430 m/s. Since a libration-point mission had never been flown before, this large capacity provided a margin in case the actual station-keeping costs were higher than theoretical models predicted. 3) 4)

Spacecraft size: 1.77 m diameter, height = 1.58 m. The launch mass of the ISEE-3 spacecraft was 479 kg (including 89 kg of hydrazine), and power of 173 W.

Alternate designations of the ISEE-3 mission were: ISEE-C, ICE (International Cometary Explorer), and Explorer 59.

RF communications: Communications are provided in S-band. The ISEE-3/ICE bit rate was nominally 2048 bit/s during the early part of the mission and 1024 bit/s during the P/Giacobini-Zinner encounter. The bit rate then dropped to 512 bit/s on 9/12/1985, 256 bit/s on 5/1/1987, 128 bit/s on 1/24/1989, and finally 64 bit/s on 12/27/1991.

Figure 1: Artist's view of the ISEE-3 spacecraft in orbit (image credit: NASA)
Figure 1: Artist's view of the ISEE-3 spacecraft in orbit (image credit: NASA)
Figure 2: Photo of the ISEE-3 spacecraft during test and integration at GSFC (image credit: NASA)
Figure 2: Photo of the ISEE-3 spacecraft during test and integration at GSFC (image credit: NASA)
Figure 3: The ISEE-3 spacecraft in flight configuration (image credit: JHU/APL, Ref. 3)
Figure 3: The ISEE-3 spacecraft in flight configuration (image credit: JHU/APL, Ref. 3)




ISEE-3 was launched on August 12, 1978 from Cape Canaveral (Delta 2014 vehicle) and subsequently inserted into a "halo orbit" about the the libration point situated about 240 Earth radii (Re) upstream between the Earth and the Sun.

Orbit: ISEE-3 was first placed into a halo orbit around the Lagrangian Point L1, located ~ 1.5 million km (~240 Earth radii, Re) sunward from the Earth. At L1 the spacecraft co-rotated with the Earth around the sun during the course of each year.

ISEE-3 used the tight control technique in an attempt to maintain its trajectory as close to a nominal halo orbit as possible. This mission, being the first to orbit a Sun-Earth libration point, had the luxury of a large supply of fuel to allow for uncertainties in the insertion to and maintenance of the new orbit. The relatively small errors encountered during insertion into the halo orbit left a large amount of fuel that could be used specifically for stationkeeping. Over the four years that ISEE-3 was established at the L1 point, 15 SK (Station Keeping) maneuvers were performed totaling 30.06 m/s at an average of 2.00 m/s per maneuver. The time between the maneuvers averaged 82 days.

The Earth-Moon-Sun system was used as a catapult to maneuver the spacecraft into its various mission phases (Figures 7 and 6).

Figure 4: ISEE-3 transfer trajectory to the halo orbit (image credit: JHU/APL)
Figure 4: ISEE-3 transfer trajectory to the halo orbit (image credit: JHU/APL)
Figure 5: Isometric view of the ISEE-3 halo orbit around the Sun-Earth L1 point (image credit: JHU/APL, Ref. 3)
Figure 5: Isometric view of the ISEE-3 halo orbit around the Sun-Earth L1 point (image credit: JHU/APL, Ref. 3)



Mission Status

• Oct. 2014: In 1978, the 3rd International Sun-Earth Explorer (ISEE-3) of NASA became the first libration-point mission, about the Sun-Earth L1 point. Four years later, a complex series of lunar swingbys and small propulsive maneuvers ejected ISEE-3 from the Earth-Moon system, to fly by a comet (Giacobini-Zinner) for the first time in 1985, as the rechristened International Cometary Explorer (ICE). In its heliocentric orbit, ISEE-3/ICE slowly drifted around the Sun to return to the Earth's vicinity in 2014. Maneuvers in 1986 targeted a 2014 August 10th lunar swingby to recapture ISEE-3 into Earth orbit. In 1999, ISEE-3/ICE passed behind the Sun; after that, tracking of the spacecraft ceased and its control center at Goddard was shut down. In 2013, meetings were held to assess the viability of "re-awakening" ISEE-3. The goal was to target the 2014 lunar swingby, to recapture the spacecraft back into a halo-like Sun-Earth L1 orbit. However, special hardware for communicating with the spacecraft via NASA's Deep Space Network stations was excessed after 1999, and NASA had no funds to reconstruct the lost equipment. 5)

- After ISEE-3's carrier signal was detected on March 1, 2014 with the 20 m antenna at Bochum, Germany, Skycorp, Inc. (Mountain View, CA, USA) decided to initiate the ISEE-3 Reboot Project, to use a SDR (Software Defined Radio) with a less costly S-band transmitter that was purchased with a successful RocketHub crowdsourcing effort. NASA granted Skycorp permission to command the spacecraft. Commanding was successfully accomplished using the 300 m radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico. New capture trajectories were computed, including trajectories that would target the August lunar swingby and use a second ?V that could target later lunar swingbys that would allow capture into almost any desired final orbit, including orbits about either the Sun-Earth L1 or L2 points, a lunar distant retrograde orbit, or targeting a flyby of the Earth-approaching active Comet Wirtanen in 2018.

- A tiny spinup maneuver was performed on July 2, 2014, the first since 1987. A 7 m/s ?V maneuver was attempted on July 8, 2014, to target the August lunar swingby. But the maneuver failed; telemetry showed that only about 0.15 m/s of ?V was accomplished, then the thrust quickly decayed. The telemetry indicated that the nitrogen pressurant was gone so hydrazine could not be forced to the thrusters.
The experience showed how a spacecraft can survive 30 years of space weather. The spacecraft flew 18,000 km from the Moon, resulting in a heliocentric orbit that will return near to Earth in 2029.

- Although with no maneuvering capability, the main goal to recapture the spacecraft could not be accomplished, the successful commanding of, and telemetry from, the spacecraft proved valuable to show how a spacecraft can survive over 36 years of space weather; there was virtually no degradation of the current provided by the solar panels, contrary to expectations. Additionally, the analysis of the engineering telemetry indicated that the thermal modelling and predictions by the ISEE-3 engineering team in 1982 regarding the long term operation of the spacecraft in interplanetary space were extremely accurate. Almost all of the avionics were still functional, exceeding by more than a factor of five, the predictions of the total radiation dose tolerance.

Useful scientific observations were made of coronal mass ejections and the solar wind from vantage points that augmented the coverage provided by other near-Earth satellites. To cut costs, several new technologies were tried by the ISEE-3 Reboot Project. Perhaps the most useful was the use of software-defined radio with relatively inexpensive transmitters, which allowed use of antennas other than the oversubscribed DSN. This could provide other projects with alternatives to the DSN, lowering their telemetry cost and easing the burden on the DSN. Another technology tested was the use of the GPS 1PPS signal for ranging timing, rather than expensive hydrogen maser clocks, which aren't available at many non-DSN antennas (but there is a hydrogen maser at Arecibo, which was used extensively by the ISEE-3 Reboot Project). This was the first time that a small private organization successfully took control of and operated a NASA scientific satellite, and the first time such an effort was successfully funded with crowdsourcing (Ref. 5).

• August 10, 2014: After 36 years and > 48 billion km of travel around the Sun — as well as a crowd-funded reboot of the spacecraft and a foiled attempt to put it into Earth orbit — the ISEE-3 has completed a return visit to the Earth-Moon system. 6)

- The spacecraft made its closest approach to the Earth on August 9 and flyby of the Moon, August 10, 2014. Closest approach was 15,600 km from the Moon's surface. With the lunar flyby, Skycorp, Inc. of Mountain View, California, with help from Google Creative Labs, has announced a revised mission for ISEE-3 to deliver science to the public domain.

- ISEE-3 has marked several important milestones and achievements for NASA over several decades in which it has traveled and monitored the particles and fields between the Earth and the Sun. Its latest milestone – returning to Earth, was planned and refined over 30 years ago. However, with NASA no longer interested in recovering the spacecraft because of the limitations of its present budgets, its impending return would be with no fanfare, no commanding, no recovery into Earth orbit and no new mission. With the news that NASA could not afford a recovery, space enthusiasts began to talk. Retired and active aerospace engineers began to exchange ideas with avid HAM radio operators around the world. Finally, one group took charge. They revived the vintage spacecraft and has now designed a new mission for the it.

• In May 2014, NASA had given a green light to a group of citizen scientists attempting to breathe new scientific life into a more than 35-year old agency spacecraft. NASA signed a Non-Reimbursable Space Act Agreement (NRSAA) with Skycorp, Inc. , allowing the company to attempt to contact, and possibly command and control, the ISEE-3 (International Sun-Earth Explorer-3) spacecraft as part of the company's ISEE-3 Reboot Project. This is the first time NASA has worked such an agreement for use of a spacecraft the agency is no longer using or ever planned to use again. 7)

The goal of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project is to put the spacecraft into an orbit at a gravitationally stable point between Earth and the sun known as Lagrangian 1 (L1). Once safely back in orbit, the next step would be to return the spacecraft to operations and use its instruments as they were originally designed. ISEE-3's close approach in the coming weeks provides optimal conditions to attempt communication. If communications are unsuccessful, the spacecraft will swing by the moon and continue to orbit the sun.

• April 2014: The IEEE-3/ICE spacecraft is going to make its closest approach to Earth on August 10, 2014 before it heads back out to interplanetary space. Beacon signals from the spacecraft's communications system demonstrate that it is still operating, but scientists and engineers don't know how well. This beacon is also how they know the spacecraft is still following the same orbit around the sun, moving slightly faster than Earth. 8) 9) 10)

- Today, some citizen scientists are investigating whether it would be feasible to communicate with ISEE-3 for the first time in almost two decades in order to send commands to return it to L1. A daunting prospect after all this time with NASA's old friend. 11)

• NASA scientists, including a team lead by Robert Farquhar, are considering several options for the future of ICE, including redirecting it towards additional comet encounters in 2017 or 2018. Still other missions are possible for this robust, reused spacecraft before it once again drifts back into interplanetary space and subsequently returns to the vicinity of the Earth sometime in the 2040s (Ref. 4).

Figure 6: Artist's view of the various trajectory phases of the ISEE-3 (yellow, red) and ICE missions (green, blue), image credit: NASA 12)
Figure 6: Artist's view of the various trajectory phases of the ISEE-3 (yellow, red) and ICE missions (green, blue), image credit: NASA 12)

• On Sept. 18, 2008, NASA successfully located and reactivated ICE using the Deep Space Network. A status check revealed that all but one of its 13 experiments were still functioning, and it still has enough propellant for 150 m/s of ?V. NASA scientists are considering reusing the probe to observe additional comets in 2017 or 2018. 13)

The ISEE-3 mission proved the utility of an orbit about the Sun-Earth L1 point for space physics (especially upstream solar wind) measurements. Orbits about the Sun-Earth L2 point could be used to measure the geomagnetic tail, but already ISEE-3 showed that double-lunar swingby orbits were better for that purpose. However, in the late 1980's, many mission planners learned the value of orbits near the Sun-Earth L2 point for astronomical observations. A satellite there would have an unobstructed view of well over half of the sky with no interference from either the Sun, the Earth, or the Moon, all of which would remain within about 15o of the direction to the Sun. Especially observations in the infrared would benefit since the geometry and construction of the spacecraft would allow passive cooling to very low temperatures; the solar cell panels pointing towards the Sun could shade the scientific instruments. A small-amplitude Lissajous orbit about L2 would be better than the large-amplitude one that would be required by a periodic halo orbit.

• In 1999, NASA made a brief contact to verify its carrier signal.

• On May 5, 1997, NASA ended the ICE mission, and commanded a deactivation of the probe, with only a carrier signal left operating.

• An extended ICE mission was approved by NASA in 1991 for the continued investigation of coronal mass ejections, continued cosmic ray studies, and coordinated observations with Ulysses.

• As of January 1990, ICE was in a 355-day heliocentric orbit with an aphelion of 1.03 AU, a perihelion of 0.93 AU and an inclination of 0.1o. This will bring it back to the vicinity of the Earth-Moon system in August 2014.

• ICE also transited between the Sun and Comet Halley in late March 1986, when other spacecraft (Giotto, Planet-A, MS-T5, VEGA) were also in the vicinity of Comet Halley on their early March comet rendezvous missions. ICE became the first spacecraft to directly investigate two comets.

• The primary scientific objective of the ICE (International Cometary Explorer) mission was to study the interaction between the solar wind and a cometary atmosphere. As planned, the spacecraft traversed the plasma tail of Comet Giacobini-Zinner on September 11, 1985, and made in situ measurements of particles, fields, and waves. This represented the first ever comet encounter by a spacecraft. 14) 15)

• From Nov. 1978 to June 1982, ISEE-3 remained in its halo orbit, completing four orbits around the L1 point. During the halo-orbit phase, 15 stationkeeping maneuvers wer used for orbital maintenance. The total ?V cost for these maneuvers was ~30 m/s, which resulted in an average stationkeeping cost of 8.5 m/s per year. Attitude and spin control and an anomalous jet firing accounted for an additional 32 m/s. Even so, in June 1982, ISEE-3 still possessed a ?V capability of about 310 m/s (Ref. 3).

- In June 1982, after completing its original mission, ISEE-3 began the magnetotail and comet encounter phases of its mission. At this time, the spacecraft was renamed to ICE (International Cometary Explorer) for its 2nd mission period.

- A maneuver was conducted on June 10, 1982, to remove the spacecraft from the halo orbit around the L1 point and place it in a transfer orbit involving a series of passages between Earth and the L2 (magnetotail) Lagrangian libration point. - After several passes through the Earth's magnetotail, with gravity assists from lunar flybys in March, April, September and October of 1983, a final close lunar flyby (119.4 km above the moon's surface) on December 22, 1983, ejected the spacecraft out of the Earth-Moon system and into a heliocentric orbit ahead of the Earth, on a trajectory intercepting that of Comet Giacobini-Zinner.

- A total of fifteen propulsive maneuvers (four of which were planned) and five lunar flybys were needed to carry out the transfer from the halo orbit to an escape trajectory from the Earth-Moon system into a heliocentric orbit.

• The original mission of ISEE-3: ISEE-3 was the first artificial object placed in a halo orbit about the Sun-Earth L1 point, proving that such a suspension between gravitational fields was possible. - Plasma passing this point arrives at the Earth approximately 1 h later where it may cause changes which can be observed by instruments on ISEE-1 and ISEE-2.

Figure 7: ISEE-3 spacecraft trajectory overview from halo orbit to geomagnetic tail
Figure 7: ISEE-3 spacecraft trajectory overview from halo orbit to geomagnetic tail



Sensor Complement

The ISEE-3 payload consisted of 13 instruments provided by both US and European groups.

The ISEE-3 (aka ISEE-C) plasma wave investigation is designed to provide comprehensive information on interplanetary wave-particle interactions. Three spectrum analyzers with a total of 19 bandpass channels cover the frequency range 0.3 Hz to 100 kHz. The main analyzer, which uses 16 continuously active amplifiers, gives two complete spectral scans per second in each of 16 filter channels. The instrument sensors include a high-sensitivity magnetic search coil, and electric antennas with effective lengths of 0.6 and 45 m. 16)

The primary scientific objectives of the ISEE-C plasma wave investigation can be summarized as follows:

1) to determine the roles that plasma waves play at interplanetary discontinuities and at stream-stream interaction fronts. Some wave energy must propagate away from the discontinuity, and this provides a nonlocal wave-particle interaction mechanism.

2) to analyze the basic interplanetary instabilities associated with thermal anisotropy and heat conduction that cause the solar wind to behave as an effective fluid even when the mean free path becomes large near 1 AU.

3) to study the energy loss and wave-wave conversion mechanisms for suprathermal electrons and protons by correlating particle distribution data with wave measurements. This study will involve effects associated with solar-radio bursts.

4) to determine the effective transport coefficients (heat conductivity, electrical conductivity, viscosity) associated with wave-particle scattering in the solar wind.

5) to search for local wave-particle acceleration processes in the solar wind.

The goal is to evaluate the local plasma parameters by analyzing plasma wave data, search for interplanetary whistler-mode signals that should develop whenever (Tl/TII)e exceeds unity, and study the dynamical energy dissipation processes that can cause large amplitude MHD waves in the solar wind to steepen into collisionless shocks.

ANH (X-Rays and Electrons Instrument)

PI: Kinsey A. Anderson, UCB (University of California, Berkeley). This instrument represented the first successful flight of a high purity germanium detector on a satellite. It provided an order of magnitude improvement in the measurement of spectral properties of gamma-ray bursts than any previously flown detector. 17)

- Measurement of solar flare X-ray bursts and transient cosmic gamma-ray bursts. A proportional counter and scintillation detector cover the energy range from 5 - 228 keV.

- Measurement of electrons from ~2 keV to ~1MeV with high energy and angular resolution. (Study of interplanetary and solar electrons in the energy range between the solar wind and galactic cosmic rays).

This experiment was designed to provide continuous coverage of solar-flare X rays and transient cosmic gamma-ray bursts. Detectors were a xenon-filled proportional counter (5-14 keV in 6 channels) and a NaI scintillator (12-1250 keV in 12 channels). There were four operating modes: normal, flare-1, flare-2, and gamma-burst. In the normal mode, the time resolution was 0.5 to 4 s, depending on the channel. In the gamma-burst mode, the best time resolution was 0.25 to 125 ms and used stored data.

BAH (Solar Wind Plasma Experiment)

PI: S. J. Bame, Los Alamos Scientific Lab. Two electrostatic analyzers ( with 135o spherical section) provide electron and ion measurements. Each instrument uses a divided secondary emitter system to intercept the analyzed particles.

HKH (High Energy Cosmic Ray Experiment)

PI: H. H. Heckman, UCB. Multidetector cosmic ray experiment to identify the charge and mass of incident cosmic ray nuclei from H through Fe species (over energy ranges from 20 to 500 MeV/nucleon).

HOH (Low Energy Cosmic Ray Experiment)

PI: D. Hovestadt, MPI Garching, Germany. Objective: Study of nuclear and ionic composition of solar, interplanetary, and magnetospheric accelerated and trapped particles. Measurement of elemental abundances, charge state composition, energy spectra, and angular distributions of energetic ions in the energy range of 2 keV/charge to 80 MeV/nucleon, and of electrons between 75 - 1300 keV.

DFH (Low Energy Proton Experiment)

PI: R. J. Hynds, Imperial College, London. Objective: Study of low energy protons from a solar flare to relate particle fluxes measured near the Earth to fluxes in the upper corona (investigation of the gross scale of coronal control). DFH experiment to measure low energy protons in the energy range from 35-1600 keV. The instrument was designed and built by Imperial College, the Space Science Department of ESA and the Space Research Institute of Utrecht. 18) 19) 20)

Note: The DFH is also known under the designation of EPAS (Energetic Particle Anisotropy Spectrometer). EPAS consists of a system of three identical semi-conductor particle telescopes mounted on the body of the spacecraft and inclined at 30o (Telescope 1), 60o (Telescope 2) and 135o (Telescope 3) to the spacecraft spin axis which is maintained perpendicular to the ecliptic plane (to within 1o). The spacecraft spin period is 3.04 s. Each telescope has a conical field of view of 16o semi-cone angle and a geometrical factor of 0.05 cm2 sr. 21)

The telescopes detect ions (electrons being excluded by "broom" magnets) and measure their total kinetic energy (but not their mass) by each using a stack of two silicon surface barrier detectors. The front detector (A) is 33 µm thick while the second (B) is 150 µm thick. Particle counts are defined by anticoincidence (A not B), i.e. the ions deposit all their energy in the A detector and do not intercept and trigger the B detector. The amplitude of the signal produced in the A detector is dependent on the energy deposited in the silicon, and hence on the incident ion energy. This signal is fed to pulse height discriminators which define 8 primary energy channels, E1 to E8.

In addition, a further channel, E0, monitors the instrument thermal noise but can register ions above the background if the ion flux is sufficiently high. No background noise counting-rate correction is required in any of the primary energy channels, i.e. the counts recorded are actual particle counts. The channel energy ranges depend slightly on ion mass. This is due principally to mass-dependent energy losses when the ions pass through a thin gold electrode on the front surface of the A detector.

Figure 8: The Low Energy Particle Telescope System on ISEE-3 (image credit: Imperial College, London)
Figure 8: The Low Energy Particle Telescope System on ISEE-3 (image credit: Imperial College, London)

MEH (Cosmic Ray Electrons and Nuclei)

PI: P. Meyer, University of Chicago). Objective: Study of the long and short-term variability of cosmic ray electrons and nuclei. Measurement of the energy spectrum of cosmic electrons in the range of 5-400 MeV. In addition, determination of the energy spectra and relative abundances of nuclei from protons in the iron group (energies from 30 MeV/n to 15 GeV/n). 22)

OGH (Plasma Composition Experiment)

PI: Keith W. Ogilvie, NASA/GSFC. Objective: Study of the dynamics and energetics of the solar wind acceleration region. Ion mass spectrometer for the measurement of ionic composition of the solar wind.

SCH (Plasma Wave Instrument)

PI: F. L. Scarf, TRW, Los Angeles. Objective: Study of interplanetary wave-particle interactions in the spectral range from 1 Hz to 100 kHz. Measurements of magnetic field and electric field components on long booms (90 m tip to tip). Magnetic field levels: 8 channels, 60 dB range, 20 Hz - 1 kHz. Electric field levels: 16 channels, 80 dB range, 20 Hz - 100 kHz.

SBH (Radio Mapping Experiment)

PI: J. L. Steinberg, Meudon Observatory, Paris. Objectives: a) monitoring the solar wind flow and perturbations of the magnetic field in conjunction with simultaneous measurements on ISEE-1 and -2 (bow shock, magnetopause, neutral sheet), and b) propagation studies of particle fluxes and shock waves in the solar wind (large scale structure of the magnetic field).
Measurement of the interplanetary scintillation of natural radio sources using two dipole antennas, one in the spin plane (90 m tip to tip) and one along the spin axis (15 m tip-to-tip). Each of these antennas drives two radiometers (10 kHz bandwidth and 3 kHz bandwidth).

SMH (Helium Vector Magnetometer)

PI: E. J. Smith, JPL. Objective: Continuous observation of the interplanetary magnetic field near 1 AU (structure, direction, polarity north-south component, magnitude, dynamic phenomena). Boom-mounted magnetometer sensor (3 m) with the following characteristics: 23)

- 8 dynamic ranges of: ±4, ±14, ±42, ±144, ±640, ±4000, ±22000, ±140000 ?

- frequency response: 0 - 3 Hz within three bands (0.1 - 1, 1 - 3, and 3 - 10 Hz) to measure fluctuations parallel to the S/C spin axis.

STH (Heavy Isotope Spectrometer Telescope, HIST)

PI: E. C. Stone, CIT (California Institute of Technology). Objective: measurement of the isotopic composition and energy of solar, galactic, and interplanetary cosmic ray nuclei for the elements Li through Ni in the energy range from ~5 to 250 MeV/nucleon. Charge, isotope, and energy range: Z 3 - 28 (Li to Ni); A 6 - 64 (6Li to 64Ni). Mass resolution: Li 0.065 - 0.83 proton masses; Fe 0.18 - -0.22 proton masses. 24) 25)

The HIST instrument consists of a telescope of solid-state detectors and associated signal-processing electronics. The telescope consists of 11 silicon solid-state detectors of graduated thicknesses. The front two detectors (M1 and M2) are two-dimensional position-sensitive detectors which measure the trajectories of individual particles entering the telescope. Use of this trajectory information results in a significant improvement in the mass resolution as compared with telescopes with similar opening angles that do not have trajectory-measuring capability.

Figure 9: Photo of the solar isotope spectrometer (image credit: NASA/JPL)
Figure 9: Photo of the solar isotope spectrometer (image credit: NASA/JPL)

TYH (Medium Energy Cosmic Ray Experiment):

PI: Tycho T. von Rosenvinge, NASA/GSFC. Objective: measurement of the charge composition of nuclear energetic particles over the energy ranges from ~1 - 500 MeV/ nucleon, and charges from Z=1 to Z=28.

The experiment consists of two telescopes. The combined charge, mass, and energy intervals covered by these two telescopes are as follows: 26)

- Nuclei charge of energy spectra: Z = 1-30, energy range 1-500 MeV/nucleon

- Isotopes: Z=1, ?M=1, from 4-70 MeV/n; Z=2, ?M=1 from 1-70 MeV/n; Z=3-7, ?M=1 from 30-140 MeV/n

- Electrons: ~2-10 MeV

- Anisotropies: Z=1-26 (1-150 MeV/n for Z=1,2); Electrons: 2-10 MeV.



1) "ISEE-3/ICE," URL:


3) Robert W. Farquhar, "The Flight of ISEE-3/ICE: Origins, Mission History, and a Legacy," The Journal of the Astronautical Sciences, ISSN 0021-9142, Vol. 49, No 1, January-March 2001, pp. 23-73; and previously presented at the AIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, August 11, 1998 (AIAA paper 98-4464), URL:

4) Andrew J. LePage, "The ICE mission: the first cometary encounter," The Space Review, Sept. 20, 2010, URL:

5) David W. Dunham, Robert W. Farquhar, Michael Loucks, Craig E. Roberts, Denis Wingo, Keith Cowing, Leonard N. Garcia, Tim Craychee, Criag Nickel, Anthony Ford, Marco Colleluori, David C. Folta, Jon Giogini, Edward Nace, John E. Spohr, William Dove, Nathan Mogk, Roberto Furfaro, Warren L. Martin, "The 2014 Earth Return of the ISEE-3/ICE Spacecraft," Proceedings of the 65th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2014), Toronto, Canada, Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2014, paper: IAC-14-B6.3.1

6) Tim Reyes, "ISEE-3 Completes Lunar Flyby, Begins a Citizen Science Program," Universe Today, August 10, 2014, URL:

7) Steve Cole, Dennis Wingo, "NASA Signs Agreement with Citizen Scientists Attempting to Communicate with Old Spacecraft," PR Newswire, May 21, 2014, URL:

8) "ISEE-3: An Old Friend Comes to Visit Earth," Space Daily, April 17, 2014, URL:

9) Keith Cowing, "ISEE-3: An Old Friend Comes to Visit Earth," SpaceRef, April 15, 2014, URL:

10) "ISEE-3/ICE," NASA, URL:

11) "ISEE-3 Reboot Project by Space College, Skycorp, and SpaceRef," RocketHub, April 17, 2014, URL:


13) Emily Lakdawalla, "IT'S ALIVE," The Planetary Society, URL:

14) Robert Farquhar, Daniel Muhonen, Leonard C. Church, "Trajectories and orbital maneuvers for the ISEE-3/ICE comet mission ," American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and American Astronautical Society, Astrodynamics Conference, Seattle, WA, Aug 20-22,1984., paper: AIAA-1984-1976


16) F. L. Scarf, R. W. Fredricks, D. A. Gurnett, E. J. Smith, "The ISEE-C Plasma Wave Investigation," IEEE Transaction on Geoscience Electronics, Vol. GE-16, No 3, July 1978, URL:

17) K. A. Anderson, S. R. Kane, J. H. Primbsch, R. H. Weitzmann, W. D. Evans, R. W. Klebesadel, W. P. Aiello, "X-ray spectrometer experiment aboard the ISEE-C (heliocentric) spacecraft," IEEE Transactions on Geoscience Electronics, Vol. GE-16, Issue 3, July 1978, p. 157-159

18) A. Balogh, R. J. Hynds, J. J. van Rooijen, G. A. Stevens, T. R. Sanderson, K. P. Wenzel, "Energetic Particles in the Heliosphere - Results from the ISEE-3 Spacecraft," ESA Bulletin 27, 1981, pp. 4-12

19) A. Balogh, G. Van Dijen, J. Van Genechten, J. Henrion, R. Hynds, G. Korfmann, T. Iversen, J. Van Rooijen, T. Sanderson, G. Stevens, K. P. Wenzel, "The Low Energy Proton Experiment on ISEE-C," IEEE Transactions on Geoscience Electronics, Vol. GE-16, Issue 3, July 1978, pp. 176-180

20) André Balogh, "The ISEE-3/ICE mission," Dec. 18, 1998, URL:

21) "The ISEE-3/ICE Energetic Particle Anisotropy Spectrometer (EPAS)," URL:

22) P. Meyer, P. Evenson, "University of Chicago cosmic ray electrons and nuclei experiment on the H spacecraft," IEEE Transactions on Geoscience Electronics, GE-16, No. 3, July 1978., pp.180-185

23) A.M.A. Frandsen, B. V. Connor, J. Van Amersfoort, E. J. Smith, "The ISEE-C Vector Helium Magnetometer," IEEE Transactions on Geoscience Electronics, GE-16, No. 3, July 1978., pp. 195-198

24) Edward C. Stone, Richard A. Mewaldt, "Research relative to the heavy isotope spectrometer telescope experiment," Final Report, 1 Dec. 1985 - 30 Nov. 1992, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy

25) W. E. Althouse, A. C. Cummings, T. L. Garrard, R. A. Mewaldt, E. C. Stone, R. E. Vogt, "A cosmic ray isotope spectrometer," IEEE Transactions on Geoscience Electronics, Vol. 16, Issue 3, July 1978, p.204

26) T. T. von Rosenvinge, F. B. McDonald, J. H. Trainor, M. A. I. Van Hollebeke, I. A. Fisk, " The Medium Energy Cosmic Ray Experiment for ISEE-C," IEEE Transactions on Geoscience Electronics, Vol. GE-16, No. 3, July 1978, pp. 208-212

The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (

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