NASA confirmed the identity of its lost-and-found satellite that goes by the name IMAGE and ID as 166. It was rediscovered on January 20, 2018, by an amateur astronomer in high Earth orbit, and his initial research clarified that it was the spacecraft from NASA’s mission launched on March 25, 2000.
The mission was launched into the earth’s orbit to image our planet’s magnetosphere, producing the first ever global photographs of the region’s plasma populations. The spacecraft was named Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration, abbreviated to IMAGE.
It successfully completed the mission of the initial two years but ‘unexpectedly failed to make contact on a routine pass on December 18, 2005.’ The mission was announced as ‘over’ after an eclipse failed on a reboot in 2007.
The rediscovery on January 20 this year was followed by Goddard Space Flight Center announcing 6 days after to start emphasizing the confirmation of the identity. This required focusing on the source and determining the signal of the NASA satellite IMAGE, and ‘included locating appropriate software and commands to potentially operate the mission,’ considering the spacecraft’s vintage nature.