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Pioneer 10

From Academic Kids

Launch of Pioneer 10
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Launch of Pioneer 10

Launched on March 2, 1972 by an Atlas-Centaur rocket, Pioneer 10 (also called Pioneer F) was the first spacecraft to travel through the asteroid belt, and was the first spacecraft to make direct observations of Jupiter. On December 3, 1973, Pioneer 10 sent back the first close-up images of Jupiter. On June 13th 1983 it passed the orbit of Neptune, then the outermost planet because of Pluto's highly eccentric orbit. By some definitions, this made the spacecraft the first artificial object to leave the solar system. However, Pioneer 10 has still not passed the heliopause or Oort cloud.

Famed for a time as the most remote object ever made by man, at last contact Pioneer 10 was over 7.6 billion miles away from Earth. (Until February 17, 1998, the heliocentric radial distance of Pioneer 10 had been greater than that of any other man-made object. But later on that date, Voyager 1's heliocentric radial distance, in the approximate apex direction, equaled that of Pioneer 10 at 69.419 AU. Thereafter, Voyager 1's distance will exceed that of Pioneer 10 at the approximate rate of 1.016 AU per year).

The  on board the Pioneer spacecraft
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The plaque on board the Pioneer spacecraft

Built by TRW[[1] (http://quest.nasa.gov/sso/cool/pioneer10/mission/), the spacecraft made valuable scientific investigations in the outer regions of our solar system until the end of its mission on March 31, 1997. The Pioneer 10's weak signal continued to be tracked by the Deep Space Network as part of a new advanced concept study of chaos theory. Before 1997 the probe was used in the training of flight controllers on how to acquire radio signals from space.

Pioneer 10 is heading in the direction of the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus. It will take Pioneer over 2 million years to reach it.


Fictional references

Pioneer 10 was used for target practice and easily destroyed by a Klingon Bird of Prey in the movie Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

See also

External links

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