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Solar Flares

Loss of Contact with the SOHO Spacecraft
(adapted from SOHO-News), 26 June 1998.

During routine maintenance operations, ground controllers lost contact with the SOHO (Solar and Heliosopheric Observatory) spacecraft and the satellite went into Emergency Sun Reacquisition (ESR) mode. The ESR mode is activated when an anomaly occurs and the spacecraft loses its orientation towards the Sun. When this happens, the spacecraft automatically tries to point itself towards the Sun again by firing its attitude control thrusters under the guidance of an onboard Sun sensor. Efforts to re-establish nominal operations did not succeed and telemetry was lost. Subsequent attempts using the full NASA Deep Space Network capabilities have so far been unsuccessful.

ESA and NASA engineers are continuing with the task of re-establishing contact with the spacecraft. The SOHO mission is a joint undertaking of ESA and NASA. The spacecraft was launched aboard an Atlas II rocket from Florida on 2 December 1995 from the Cape Canaveral Air Station. Mission operations are directed from the control center at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA. In April 1998 SOHO successfully completed its nominal two-year mission to study the Sun's atmosphere, surface and interior. Major science highlights include: