Status Report

NASA Contacts Pioneer 10 Probe

By SpaceRef Editor
March 2, 2002
Filed under , ,

From Larry Lasher, Pioneer Project Manager

Subject: Pioneer-10 30 Year Launch Anniversary Track

Pioneer-10 was successfully contacted today. Yesterday, about 3pm
PST a 200 Kw uplink transmission from Goldstone California, the 70
meter DSN antenna DSS-14, was sent to Pioneer-10 and 22 hours later
in Madrid Spain at the DSN 70 meter antenna DSS-63 the confirmation
of contact was received. From a distance of 79.7 AU DSS-63 acquired
the signal on time at about -183 dbm. They spent an hour peaking the
signal (-178.5 dbm) and then they were able to lock up telemetry at
16 bps at an SNR of -0.5 db. Tracking continued until the elevation
was about 20 degrees but enough telemetry was received to verify the
state of Pioneer-10. Incidentally, the SETI institute also saw the
signal from Arecibo in Puerto Rico. For years they have used
Pioneer-10 as a reference for their investigations.

The spacecraft is still healthy. The power is still sufficient to
support the loads with the bus voltage at about 26 volts (nominal is
28). The uplink from DSS-14 was received by the spacecraft at
-131.7 dbm. The spacecraft is extremely cold, with many of the
temperature readings at the bottom of their scales. Two commands
were sent yesterday from Goldstone and both were confirmed to have
been executed by the spacecraft. One scientific instrument is still
on, the Geiger Tube Telescope, and Dr. James Van Allen, the PI, will
be happy to hear he has some more data to look at.

Thirty years ago the first mission to explore the outer planets,
specifically the planet Jupiter, was launched from KSC. Many of the
people who designed, built and flew the spacecraft have passed on but
Pioneer-10 continues. From ARC and the Pioneer Project we send our
thanks to the many people at the DSN (Goldstone and Madrid) and JPL
who made it possible to hear the spacecraft signal again.

Dave Lozier, Pioneer Flight Director

Related Links

  • 27 February 2002: NASA to Try to Contact Pioneer 10 Spacecraft Again, NASA ARC

  • 20 April 2001: NASA Establishes Contact with Famed Pioneer 10 Spacecraft, NASA ARC

  • 24 March 2000: Pioneer 10 Status, NASA ARC

  • Pioneer 10 Status, NASA ARC

  • SpaceRef staff editor.