When mission crews lose contact with a spacecraft or lander for a significant amount of time, that’s usually a bad sign… ask the European Space Agency if you want to know why. However, NASA just showed why you shouldn’t always give up hope. It reestablished contact with STEREO-B, one of two probes studying the Sun and solar weather, after nearly two years of communications silence. The team had lost its connection during a test of the ship’s command lost timer on October 1st, 2014, but kept trying numerous recovery strategies (most recently using the Deep Space Network) until they heard back early on August 21st.
So what’s next? It’ll be a while before STEREO-B is back in action, and there’s no guarantees that it’ll pick up where it left off. The crew wants to check all of the craft’s subsystems, regain attitude control and determine the state of its observational skills before giving it a clean bill of health. Whatever the outcome, the contact itself is good news — both for science and for the mission members worried that they’d never again hear from their pride and joy.