National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
 By Target   By Name   By Decade 
Search all Missions Between:      and      Search
1950-1959 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2009 2010-2019 2020+
ISEE-3/ICE Mission to Comets ISEE-3/ICE Mission to Our Solar System

Goals: International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) was to investigate the solar wind and its interaction with Earth's magnetic field, among other phenomena in interplanetary space. It was later renamed International Cometary Explorer (ICE) and used to study two comets during an extended mission.

Accomplishments: ISEE-3 conducted the first deep survey of Earth's magnetic tail. Then, after a series of complex flybys of the Moon, the spacecraft was renamed the International Cometary Explorer (ICE) and became the first spacecraft to fly past a comet (Giacobini-Zinner). Its observations supported the theory that comets are "dirty snowballs." The following year, it joined international exploration of Comet Halley by providing data on the solar wind approaching the comet.


Key Dates
12 Aug 1978:  Launch (15:12 UT)
20 Nov 1978:  Entered Halo orbit at Lagrangian Libration Point 1 (L1)
22 Dec 1983:  Entered Heliocentric Orbit
11 Sep 1985:  Traversed Plasma Tail of Comet Giacobini-Zinner
Mar 1986:  Comet Halley Observations
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
ISEE-3/ICE was the first spacecraft to orbit a Lagrangian libration point and the first to monitor the solar wind.

It also was the first spacecraft to fly past a comet (Giacobini-Zinner).
People Spotlight
Don Yeomans Don Yeomans
"Find an area of research you love and pursue it with bulldog tenacity. If you do, success will come and you'll never have to 'go to work.'" Read More...
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writers: Courtney O'Connor and Bill Dunford
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 7 Feb 2014