back to article How's this for a remote support fix? Solar storm early-warning satellite repaired with million-mile software update

The Deep Space Climate Observatory – a satellite that warns of incoming space storms that could knacker telecommunications on Earth – is up and running again after being shut down for eight months by a technical glitch. Launched in 2015 aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, the bird, known as DSCOVR for short, was sent into orbit …

  1. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

    Yay!

    NASA triumphs again! Seems a similar fix was carried out on Galileo and Curiosity.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Yay!

      Discovering the bug/problem, developing a solution and uploading it at that distance and getting it running without having to turn the phone satellite off and run out and reboot it is fantastic. Clearly NASA boffins are working a couple of dozen orders of magnitude above my mobile phone developers.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Yay!

        " without having to turn the phone satellite off and run out and reboot it"

        Well you CAN (just do it one computer at a time), but that doesn't mean you SHOULD

        Satellites can be thought of as flying HA clusters.

    2. Saruman the White
      Pint

      Re: Yay!

      And Voyager 2 when it was way part Saturn (over 1.5 billion km away).

      I work in the satellite industry, and my respect for the people who design and build the deep-space probes, whether for NASA, ESA or anyone else, is completely and totally unbounded. I host my glass to them!

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Windows

    The Deep Space Climate Observatory

    And they choose DSCOVR as acronym ? Why didn't they go for DSCO ?

    And put a mirror ball on top ?

    Wasted opportunity.

    <grumble> <grumble> kids these days <grumble>

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: The Deep Space Climate Observatory

      Because being Boffins, they are educated. Educated folks know that disco still sucks.

      1. cookieMonster

        Re: The Deep Space Climate Observatory

        Mark Watney totally agreed with you

        1. Saruman the White

          Re: The Deep Space Climate Observatory

          Yeah, but he had 18 months with little else to listen to. That would be enough to drive you completely around the twist.

  3. John Sager

    So how was it fixed?

    That info was not in the NOAA press release, but it would have made a much more interesting article for this audience.

  4. stuartnz
    Facepalm

    You know you have a pun problem

    When you think "Is it at a LaGrange point?' Then think of a VERY long distance OTA fix and realise LaGrange also spells "lag range" #Ineedanintervention

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: You know you have a pun problem

      Puntastic!

  5. Neal L

    'An aging asset'? It's only been up since 2015. Hardly aging, even in space terms.

    1. jake Silver badge

      To today's kids ...

      ... raised on a steady diet of Short Attention Span Theater, one year old hardware is yesterday's news and beneath contempt. Anything older than 18 months is considered positively geriatric and useless, despite any and all proof to the contrary.

      Sad, isn't it.

      1. Fatman Silver badge

        Re: To today's kids ...

        <quote>Sad, isn't it.</quote>

        No, just a simple commentary on today's throw-away society.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: To today's kids ...

          You find that happy? I certainly don't.

  6. Timo

    Physics?

    For the early warning part to work... it means that the speed of the solar flares is slower than the speed of light?

    Fascinating

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Physics?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_wind#Properties_and_structure

      "a velocity of 300–500 km/s"

  7. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

    RE. Re. Physics

    Yes, this is significantly slower than light. A flare hitting us at even 1/10 of light speed would be very bad.

    On the flip side a "Super flare" could explain some of the strange isotope anomalies in the fossil record.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: RE. Re. Physics

      "A flare hitting us at even 1/10 of light speed would be very bad."

      On the other hand the Xray burst hitting us from a flare can do a fair amount of damage too - as I found out on 6 March 1989 when all layers of the ionosphere disappeared for a few hours

      Dialling across the shortwave band (3-30MHz) and hearing nothing apart from the 20-odd transmitters tossing out a few kW apiece behind you is a _very_ spooky feeling - for 20 minutes we were convinced that WW3 had started and the ballistic incoming bad day devices would arrive in the southern part of the world shortly

      It spooked the military too - last heady days of the Cold War remember - and is a LOT of the reason these birds as well as permanently monitored solar observatories now exist.

      The CME hit earth a couple of days later and started raising various issues across the planet, but nothing compared with the spookiness of "WTF just happened" that warm and sunny cloudless autumn morning.

  8. HildyJ Silver badge
    Holmes

    Early Warning and Physics

    DSCOVR is meant to study the sun, including solar flares, which feed the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. Flares are local to the Sun and do not reach Earth. But very strong flares are sometimes associated with Coronal Mass Ejections (and may cause them; the science is not clear).

    The early warning system is not for solar flares but for Coronal Mass Ejections which take several days to reach Earth. These are known to cause blackouts and affect spacecraft.

    As far as the isotope anomalies, the science is even less clear. I have heard theories of both massive CMEs and supernovae and there are undoubtedly others floating around.

    Hope this helps.

  9. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    “Bringing DSCOVR operational again shows the unique skills and adaptability of our NOAA and NASA engineers"

    Quite a contrast in methodology and results vs. their supposed star contractor.

  10. Aussie Doc
    Pint

    Well done!

    Well done the boffins.

    Some great brains and tech being used here.

    Love science.

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