We received the following email at work today:
The Solar Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer (SAMPEX) has been orbiting the earth for the past 20 years and is expected to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere around September 29, 2012. Prior to reentry it is predicted that the spacecraft will lose control around September 1 at an altitude of 250 km.
Currently, SAMPEX is in a 361 km x 397 km orbit with an inclination of 81.64 degrees. The reaction/momentum wheel failed in 2007 (though attempting to restart it might be possible). The spacecraft has the following functioning sensors and actuators: one three-axis magnetometer, one two-axis digital sun sensor, six coarse sun sensors, and three magnetic torquer rods. The spacecraft has been spin stabilized since the wheel failed.
The SSMO office is looking for ideas for engineering tests to run on SAMPEX prior to reentry. The plan is to have all engineering tests performed during the month of July. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please forward them to Josephine along with an initial test plan.
My boss, Mark A., was one of the ACS software engineers so we have intimate knowledge of how this bird works.
Here’s the SAMPEX page at GSFC: http://sunland.gsfc.nasa.gov/smex/sampex/index.html
How would you use this asset to do some interesting science? Post ideas as comments to this blog post and I’ll forward them to my team and we’ll see if anything might work!