Wednesday, August 5, 1998 Published at 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Soho wakes up
Soho is coming back to life as its solar batteries are being recharged
A European space probe has begun to revive after six weeks out of contact with mission control. Our science editor Dr David Whitehouse reports
Contact was lost with Soho on June 25 after a sequence of incorrect commands during what should have been a routine manoeuvre.
Last week, a powerful radar signal from Earth produced a faint echo from the spacecraft.
Now, sooner than scientists had expected, a faint radio signal has been received from the craft.
So far, it is only short bursts of a carrier signal, but it shows that the radio is warming up and power is slowly returning.
Engineers from the US Space agency, Nasa, and the European Space Agency, ESA, are continuing their efforts to re-establish radio data communication with the spacecraft, which seems to have suffered only minimal damage.
Next comes a long period of careful checks and repairs conducted with radio messages from Earth. The craft can be turned to the Sun, restoring the rest of the power.
The hope is that Soho will recover sufficiently to complete its mission, studying the flares and activity on the Sun and how they affect us here on Earth.
Soho is a joint project of Nasa and ESA and was launched in December 1995.
Until June, when Soho was lost, the mission had been a spectacular success, revealing new details of the motions of the Sun's surface and magnetic activity of its hot, thin atmosphere.
This success persuaded planners to extend its life - originally due to end last spring - until 2003. This would have allowed the spacecraft to observe the Sun as its 11-year cycle of activity peaks.