Pioneer 10 lives on
Scientists operating a radio telescope in Madrid have
contacted Pioneer 10, lost last August, at a range of 11
"Pioneer 10 lives on," declared project manager Dr Larry Lasher of NASA. "The
fact that we can still stay connected with the spacecraft is fantastic. We are
The hunt for the craft has been going on continually since it disappeared.
"We have been listening for the Pioneer 10 signal in a one-way downlink
non-coherent transmission mode since last summer with no success," Lasher
said. "We therefore concluded that in order for Pioneer 10 to talk to us, we
need to talk to it."
Pioneer 10 was launched on March 2, 1972 and was the first Earth spacecraft to
pass through the
asteroid belt and obtain close-up images of Jupiter. It also discovered that
Jupiter is predominantly liquid.
In 1983, it became the first manmade
object to pass the orbit of Pluto. The spacecraft continued to gather valuable
scientific data in the outer regions of the solar system until its mission
ended in March 1997, 10 billion kilometres from Earth. At that distance it
took nearly ten hours for radio signals
to bridge the gap.
Since then the spacecraft has been used by the Deep Space Network in a concept
study of chaos theory.
Pioneer 10 carries the famous gold plaque with an image of a man and a woman
and information about Earth. The spacecraft headed towards the constellation
of Taurus and will pass by one of the constellation stars in 2 million years
Source: Electronic World 2001-08
Questions? eMail me from the first page!