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International Sun-Earth Explorer 3

International Sun-Earth Explorer 3

An artist's impression of the ISEE-ICE satellite

An artist's impression of the ISEE-3/ICE satellite enroute to its encounter with Comet Giaconbini-Zinner. (Credit: NASA)

Lifetime: August 1978 - May 1997 (mission shut down; though it is still in orbit around the sun)

Operators: NASA (United States), ESA (Europe)

Primary Science

The main science of the International Sun-Earth Explorer 3, or ISEE-3 for short, were to investigate the solar-terrestrial environment at the edge of the Earth's magnetosphere, to study the structure of the solar wind near Earth, to continue the investigation of cosmic rays and solar flare emissions in the Earth's vicinity.

After it's main mission was completed, ISEE-3 was given a second mission and a new name. It was renamed the International Cometary Explorer and was tasked with studying the interaction between the solar wind and a comet's atmosphere.

High Energy Science

ISEE-3 carried two instruments capabile of high-energy observations. An X-ray spectrometer was designed to study both solar flares and cosmic gamma-ray bursts. In addition ISEE-3's payload included a gamma-ray burst spectrometer.

Science Highlights

  • First successful flight of a high purity germanium gamma-ray detector in space

Links to more information


A service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC

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