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Pioneer 10

Pioneer 10 was launched on March 2, 1972. It became the first spacecraft to travel through the Asteroid belt, and the first spacecraft to make direct observations and obtain close-up images of Jupiter. Pioneer 10's science mission ended on March 31, 1997, but the spacecraft continued to be tracked by the Deep Space Network as part of an advanced concept study of communication technology in support of NASA's future interstellar probe mission.

The last signal received from Pioneer 10 on January 23, 2003. After that, the power source on the spacecraft finally degraded to the point where the signal to Earth dropped below the threshold for detection.

Pioneer 10 will continue to coast silently through deep space into interstellar space, heading generally for the red star Aldebaran, which forms the eye of Taurus (The Bull). Aldebaran is about 68 light years away and it will take Pioneer 10 over 2 million years to reach it.

References:

  • Voyager 2 (Miscellaneous)
  • Pioneer 11 (Miscellaneous)
  • Pioneer 10 is Launched (March 3, 1972) - Pioneer 10 was launched on March 3, 1972. In June of 1983 it became the first spacecraft to venture beyond the planets.

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