This is an amazing story. An amateur satellite hunter, Scott Tilley, was looking for signs that the Zuma spacecraft might have actually survived the Falcon 9 launch that supposedly dumped it into the ocean. After all, the only word we have that it failed to separate was an unnamed congressional staffer; in these circles, that amounts to nothing more than rumor. So Tilley was looking for unaccounted for radio signals that might be consistent with the Falcon 9 launch. He didn’t find Zuma, but he did find something else: a NASA satellite named IMAGE that had lost contact years ago.
IMAGE was built as a highly capable space weather forecasting and research tool, but in 2005, it suddenly stopped communicating. NASA had hoped that an upcoming eclipse season (where the spacecraft would spend relatively long periods in the Earth’s shadow) would cause its batteries to drain, forcing it to reboot, but no signal was recovered. So eventually the project had to disband and move on.
Now, years later, it seems IMAGE has finally managed to reboot itself after all. NASA is calling on old engineers, pulling up old drawings and specs, and preparing to try and regain routine control of the spacecraft. If successful, it would be a huge benefit to space weather forecasting. So cross your fingers!