B a r b a r a  T h o m p s o n
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
SOHO Lost and Found

    Then this team of heroic engineers arrives from Europe, and they start really diagnosing the situation and trying to determine what SOHO's chance is. Some people were very honest, and they said, "practically nothing," and that was very hard for us to accept.

But a few of the engineers, most notably the leader of the team, refused to call it quits, and he said "I think we're going to get it back" and sure enough, the process begins. First of all they find it. They know it's there, they find it like they'd find a cold lump in space. They find it using the same things they use to sense asteroids.

And then, after a little while, they start to receive a signal from SOHO. It's as if you finally found it, and you get a little bit of a brainwave from it, but you're not sure if it's ever going to be fully intelligent again. The spacecraft is working, but if none of the instruments are working, we have nothing.

And even though we were euphoric when the spacecraft was contacted, we knew that this was a small fraction of the battle. We get a little more information from the spacecraft, and as time goes on they started to work on the recovery of the spacecraft itself. And, incredibly enough, the spacecraft was fine. We were able to work with the spacecraft. And then, one by one, the instruments turned on. I still can't believe it. The first one comes in... Wow!

Ulysses and SOHO are my "dream" missions, they are very ambitious and I hope we have equally ambitious missions in the future... projects that can dare to ask questions, and are financially supported so that we have the instrumentation that we need to answer them.

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