One day we sent a spacecraft out
To study Earth’s magnetosphere
When it had figured that one out
We handed it a new career–

To study comets it would go.
It left Earth’s orbit for the sun’s.
Though that was 30 years ago,
It’s still transmitting zeroes and ones.

And now it’s coming home at last!
We’ll see it August of this year.
But as it whizzes swiftly past
There will not be a listening ear–

Or at least one which can understand.
We have no way to speak with it.
The probe worked longer than we’d planned.
We will not know what it transmits.

The little spacecraft speaks a tongue
Not spoken now by anyone.

The International Comet Explorer was launched in 1978. The ICE’s orbit brings it close to us for the first time this year, but no one will be able to speak to it; it’s so outdated nothing exists which still can communicate with it.

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