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MEDIA ADVISORY: NASA Loses Contact with Satellite; UNH Researchers Mourn Potential Loss of Crucial Information on the Sun
DURHAM, N.H. -- University of New Hampshire space scientists are calling the probable loss of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) "a disaster."

NASA announced it has thus far failed to re-establish contact with the $1 billion satellite, a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency launched in 1995 and which has provided crucial information on the Sun and solar wind. Contact was lost last Thursday, in the course of retrieving routine information from the satellite, and has yet to be re-established.

UNH researchers have played a role in analyzing data from SOHO's CELIAS (Charge, Element and Isotope Analysis System). Their specific focus is studying particles coming from the Sun, in the solar wind.

With an unusually active phase of the Sun just beginning, says Martin Lee, of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, the loss of contact with SOHO "is a disaster. This has been an incredibly exciting mission, providing very important data on the Sun." And since SOHO was expected to continue its mission into the next several years, "the loss of future information is particularly distressing."

Martin Lee is available for further comment at 862-3509.

For further assistance, call Carmelle Druchniak, UNH News Bureau, 862-1462.

By Carmelle Druchniak
News Bureau