LightSail Spacecraft “Phones Home” After Communication Mishap

posted: 06/01/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
LightSail in Earth orbit
Josh Spradling / The Planetary Society

The LightSail spacecraft is back online after a brief period of radio silence caused by a software glitch. Mission commanders detected an automated radio signal from the spacecraft on Sunday evening, the first signal in ten days.

The crowdfunded solar sail went silent on May 22, when a software glitch crashed the spacecraft's onboard computer. Since then, engineers have been waiting for a system reboot, which is triggered by a charged particle from Earth's magnetic field that "strikes an electronics component in just the right way".

Engineers are still having trouble establishing two-way communication -- in a blog post, mission manager David Spencer writes that his ability to track the spacecraft's location is "marginal".

Nonetheless, the automated signal is a step in the right direction toward getting the mission back on track.

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