You would think an established program like NASA would not be fiddling about losing track of satellites, but it seems that is just what happened with the IMAGE satellite which was sent up into the magnetosphere (yes, that IS a thing) around the earth twelve years ago to help monitor the “invisible oceans” which are defined as “a place where nothing tangible — no snow or sand or tree or even a cloud — records titanic currents and pulses.”
But then they lost IMAGE (name of satellite monitoring the invisible oceans). They did collect a decent amount of data from the mission so they didn’t consider it a total loss but quickly moved on.
I know a lot of this sounds like science jargon because it is, but here is the cool part. NASA lost IMAGE for over a decade, under the false pretense that one of the craft’s subsystems had failed. Such was not the case, the IMAGE was just lost in space.
You know, like the show:
Until ONE AMATURE (and anonymouse) ASTRONOMER found proof that IMAGE was not only still active, but it had still been collecting data over the time it was believed to be lost.
This means not only did an amature astronomer find something that tons of professionals couldn’t, he or she also found something that will supply NASA (and us all) with over a decade of incredibly useful information about our own solar system.
And you KNOW the guy or gal who found something NASA couldn’t is probably pretty proud of themself right now, justifiably. Well done, science-person, well done!