Nasa Contacts Pioneer 10 on its 30th Birthday

03 March 2002
Posted by Chris Smith.

NASA successfully made contact again with the spacecraft Pioneer 10, on its 30th birthday ! Pioneer 10 was originally launched in 1972 to study asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, and planet Jupiter itself. After it completed its mission Pioneer 10 continued towards the edge of the solar system, travelling at about 27,300 miles per hour. In 1983 it became the first man-made object to leave the solar system when it crossed the orbit of Pluto, the farthest planet from the Sun. Pioneer 10 is now 7.4 billion miles away and which is why scientists had to wait for 22 hours and 6 minutes before they heard a reply, picked up by a radio telescope in Spain. "The signal came through loud and clear," NASA said. Right now Pioneer is heading for the star Aldeboron, which sits at the centre of the constellation Taurus. We're not likely to see it get there during our lifetimes though - the journey is expected to take 2 million years !

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