The Washington PostThe Washington Post

NASA spacecraft reunites with Earth after 17-year trip around the sun

By Daniel Wu

21 Aug 2023 · 4 min read

informed Summary

  1. NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory-A spacecraft, launched in 2006, has returned to Earth after nearly 17 years of conducting research on the sun. The spacecraft outlived its initial two-year mission and continued its journey even after losing contact with NASA in 2015.

For nearly 17 years, NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory-A spacecraft drifted through space on a lonely mission. It traveled around the sun far ahead of Earth, conducting groundbreaking research on the solar system's star.

Like many NASA spacecraft, STEREO-A outlived its mission life span of two years. Instead, it traveled farther and farther away from Earth on a journey that became fraught with uncertainty as it passed behind the sun in 2015, temporarily severing contact with NASA. The same year, the agency lost contact with STEREO-A's sibling vessel, STEREO-B, which was traveling a similar path.

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