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NASA decides to "wait and see" on disabled SOHO Satellite


(CNN) - Though NASA has still not re-established contact with the crippled SOHO satellite, SOHO solar scientist Art Poland says the space agency is unlikely to declare the satellite lost and the mission over anytime soon.

Poland says telemetry data radioed back from SOHO last Thursday, shortly before communication was lost, indicates the satellite somehow lost attitude control. Consequently, its solar panels moved out of alignment with the sun, and its antennas are no longer angled toward Earth.

NASA does not know at this point what happened to the satellite to move it out of its proper orientation. However, NASA does believe that SOHO may be in a slow spin, and, if that's the case, the satellite could drift back into proper alignment on its own in the future.

With that in mind, SOHO scientists will continue to attempt to contact the satellite in the coming days, weeks, or even months in hopes re-establishing communication.

If radio contact can be re-established, there is a chance the satellite could be brought back under control, and the science mission could resume.

SOHO stands for Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, and it is a joint NASA and European Space Agency project.

SOHO was designed to study the sun from an area out in space known as the L1 position, which is one million miles out from Earth, between the Earth and sun.

SOHO was launched in December, 1995, and successfully completed its initial two year mission. Scientists had hoped it would continue to operate for several more years.

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