NASA Tracks "Zombie" Spacecraft from Office Space Inside Old McDonald's

"We hope to establish contact"

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC Bay Area's business and tech reporter Scott Budman shows how a former McDonald's building is being used by NASA's Ames Research Center. (Published Tuesday, Jun 17, 2014)

    "We hope to establish contact."

    A big goal for a small team of engineers, working out of a very unusual office at NASA's Ames Research Center.

    The team, led by Jacob Gold, is trying to track the International Sun/Earth Explorer, often called ISEE-3. First launched back in the disco age of 1978, ISEE-3 has been doing a steady dance around the moon. The team worries that after its latest moon orbit, the spacecraft will disappear into the depths of space - never to be heard from again.

    So Gold and his fellow engineers have set up camp in building 596, which used to be a McDonald's at Ames. Now, instead of fry cookers and shake machines, it's filled with instruments to try and track the spacecraft, with the goal of tracking it down, and putting it back to work.

    The team has even raised $132,000 in a crowdfunding campaign. They know they have to work fast, and nothing is for sure. But this little probe has been busy: It also sent back data from Halley's comet, before being shut down, for budgetary reasons, back in 1999.

    Can it come back? We'll keep you posted.

    Scott can be tracked on Twitter: @scottbudman