IMAGE (Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration) is a NASA Medium Explorers mission that studied the global response of the Earth's magnetosphere to changes in the solar wind. It was believed lost but as of August 2018 might be recoverable. It was launched March 25, 2000 by a Delta II rocket from Vandenberg AFB on a two-year mission. Almost six years later, it unexpectedly ceased operations in December 2005 during its extended mission and was declared lost. The spacecraft was part of NASA's Sun-Earth Connections Program, and during its run had over 400 research articles published in peer-reviewed journals using its data. It had special cameras that provided various breakthroughs in understanding the dynamics of plasma around the Earth. The Principal Investigator was Jim Burch of the Southwest Research Institute.
In January 2018, an amateur satellite tracker found it to be transmitting some signals back to Earth. NASA made attempts to communicate with the spacecraft and determine its payload status, but has had to track down and adapt old hardware and software to the current systems. On February 25, contact with IMAGE was again lost only to be reestablished on March 4, 2018. The signal disappeared once again on August 5, 2018. Recovery efforts are underway and if successful NASA may decide to fund a restarted mission.
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