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50-Year Anniversary of Pioneer 10: Surviving in Space for 3 Decades and Making Scientific Contributions

The probe was launched on March 2, 1972, using an Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle, and survived in the harsh space environment for over three decades, 25 of which were spent performing scientific tasks.

The mission was only planned for 21 months

At the same time, NASA originally planned the mission for only 21 months. Pioneer 10, which carries a message to extraterrestrial civilizations – a plate with the image of a man and a woman and the position of the Earth in the galaxy – was equipped with instruments to measure magnetic fields, solar wind, cosmic rays and micrometeoroids.

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The path of the 259-kilogram, 71-centimeter-wide, and 25.5-centimeter-high probe first led to the belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, from which it safely exited in February 1973. During its stay in the orbit of Jupiter, to which it came closest (about 130 thousand km ) in early December 1973, sent three hundred photos of this largest planet in the Solar System to Earth.

It went accordingly NASA website for the first detailed images of Jupiter, and thanks to them it was also confirmed that Jupiter is a so-called gas giant, i.e. that most of its mass is gas or gas compressed into a liquid state.

In June 1983, the path of Pioneer 10 crossed the path of the planet Neptune and thus reached the so-called Kuiper belt. This region consists of several tens of thousands of larger bodies, including the dwarf planet Pluto.

In 1997, NASA formally ended the project, but tracking the probe continued. Radio contact was last established in January 2003, the following month the probe no longer responded – according to American experts, it no longer had enough energy.

Pioneer 11

A sister vehicle was the planetary probe Pioneer 11, launched on an Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral, Florida on April 6, 1973.

50 years ago, the American planetary probe Pioneer 11 launched


Like Pioneer 10 and Voyager 1 and 2, Pioneer 11, if it still works and exists at all, is headed away from our solar system into interstellar space and beyond – carrying a message from humanity into space.

Voyager 1 was the first probe to enter interstellar space. He has been traveling there for 10 years

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2023-06-13 12:27:22
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