Pioneer Missions

By Lailani Watts

Pioneer 3 (Flyby Mission)

Pioneer 3 was launched on 6th December 1958 as a flyby mission.

This spacecraft was a spin-stabilized probe (up to 700rpm)

Lasting only 38 hours and 6 minutes this spacecraft managed to contribute in a major scientific discovery of dual bands of radiation around earth.

The technology it had was Photoelectric sensor trigger and two Geiger- Mueller counters, two special weights on wires which could reduce spin when needed.

Pioneer 5 (Orbiter Mission)

This spacecraft Pioneer 5 was launched on 11th march 1960 it successfully reached the heliocentric orbit between earth and Venus to provide the first map of interplanetary magnetic field. It was intended for a Venus flyby but changed to test new technologies. It used transmitter and rates varied from 64 to 8 to 1 bit per second and confirmed the existence of interplanetary magnetic fields.

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Pioneer 10 (Flyby Mission)

Launched on 2nd March 1972. On 15th July 1972 it entered the asteroid belt emerging in February 1973. Measured the density of zodiacal light in interplanetary space. The first of NASA's missions to the outer space, garnered a series or firsts perhaps unmatched by any other robotic spacecraft in the space era: the first vehicle placed on a trajectory to escape the solar system into interstellar space, the first spacecraft beyond Mars, the first to fly through the asteroid belt, the first to fly past Jupiter, the first to use all-nuclear electrical power and also the first human made object to fly beyond the orbit of the outermost known plant in the solar system. There were many instruments used such as the imaging photopolarmeter, magnetometer, infrared radiometer, plasma analyzer, ultraviolet photometer, charged-particle-composition instrument, cosmic-ray telescope, Geiger tube telescopes, asteroid/meteoroid detector, Jovian trapped-radiation detector and a meteoroid detector.
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Pioneer 11 (Flyby Mission)

Launched on 5th April 1973. Pioneer 11 was the first human-made object to fly past Saturn and returned the first pictures of the polar regions of Jupiter.

Passing through the Asteroid belt on 19th April 1974.

On 25th November 1974 penetrated the Jovian bow shock.

Making the closest approach to Jupiter on 3rd December 1974, only 43,000 km from the planets atmosphere Three times closer than Pioneer 10. Obtaining photos of Great Red Spot, First observation of the polar regions, and determined the mass of Jupiter's second largest moon, Callisto.

With the help of Jupiter's gravity it soared towards Saturn, taking five years until the spacecraft was able to get to the planet.

On 31st August 1979 found evidence of Saturn's 'bow shock', or the where Saturn's magnetic field shielded the planet from effects of the sun.

The next day flew past Saturn at only 21,500km from the planets cloud tops. Sensors estimated Saturn's temperature at minus 180C and the planet is mostly made up of liquid hydrogen.

Also discovered a new ring the "F" ring as well as two small moons. Its temperature measurement of Titan, Saturn's largest moon was very cold.

Both Pioneer 10 and 11 carry a plaque with a message for any intelligent beings that might find it. A man and a woman, the solar system and its location.

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