In the world of space probes, Pioneer 10 is a bit of a marvel having outlived it’s mission and working ten times longer than NASA ever anticipated.
Originally intended to communicate with NASA for roughly 2 years (long enough to collect information about our solar system) Pioneer 10 continued to transmit data back to Earth for decades–until 1997 when the signal became weak enough that it could no longer transmit usable data . After 1997 the probe was used by the Deep Space Network to practice locating deep space radio signals. The last contact with Pioneer 10 was January 23, 2003. Currently the probe is drifting towards the star Adebaran in the constellation Taurus and will arrive there is roughly two millions years–carrying a set of gold plates depicting life on earth.
Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on Google+ if you'd like.
- Published 06/13/11