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Enthusiasts take control of abandoned NASA satellite using MacBook, McDonald's and spare radio parts


A crew of space enthusiasts, including a former NASA employee, used their knowledge of satellite technology along with some spare parts to control an abandoned NASA satellite, reports Betabeat. It's the perfect maker project with Kickstarter money providing the funding, eBay as the source of parts, an old MacBook as the console and a control center located in an abandoned McDonald's in Mountain View, California.

The satellite's battery has been dead for over 20 years, but it had solar panels to power 98 percent of the satellite's full capabilities. In its heyday, it ran missions around the Moon and Earth, and flew through the tail of a comet. But technology gets old, and everyone happily let the successful satellite go, knowing it would be back in Earth's orbit someday - namely, 2014.

Since the satellite went offline, the team had retired, the documentation was lost and the equipment was outdated. They could still hear the satellite out there talking, but they'd need to build the equipment to talk back.

The crowdfunded mission will take the operational, but abandoned ISEE-3 satellite in an orbit around the sun, where it will report on solar weather data. Google is helping the team share its mission data publicly on the web in a variety of formats.

You can read more the mission and the people behind it in the Betabeat article.

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