Pioneer 10 spacecraft

Pioneer 10 spacecraft

Courtesy of NASA

http://science.nasa.gov/missions/pioneer-10-11/



Overview
Pioneer was a series of unmanned space probes launched over a period of 20 years. Pioneers 10 and 11 are most famous because they were sent to explore the outer solar system, and then eventually go beyond our solar system into interstellar space.


Launch
March 2, 1972


Arrival
(closest approach to Jupiter) December 3, 1973


End of Mission
The mission officially ended on March 31, 1997. Pioneer 10 continues to coast through deep space with the last data communication detected in 2002. It will take 2 million years to reach Aldebaran, the red star in the constellation Taurus.


Goals
Investigate the Jupiter system, the constellation Taurus, and beyond.


Findings
Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to travel through the asteroid belt on its way to Jupiter. It passed Jupiter within 1.3 million km (81,000 miles). It was the first spacecraft to make direct observations and obtain close-up images of Jupiter. Pioneer 10 imaged the planet and its moons, and took measurements of Jupiter’s radiation belts, magnetic field, atmosphere, and interior. The radiation measurements of the environment near Jupiter were crucial in designing the spacecraft Voyager and Galileo. Pioneer 10 is now headed toward the constellation Taurus. Pioneer 10 will make valuable scientific investigations in the outer regions of our solar system until the end of its mission when it will be over 10 billion km (6.3 billion miles) away.