The plaque consists of diagrams. These include a man and woman standing on the
side view of the spacecraft. The man's hand is raised in a gesture of good will.
The diagrams also show the position of our solar system in the
galaxy and chemical information about hydrogen, the most common element in the
* Pioneer entered the
Asteroid Belt on 15 July 1972 and successfully passed through
* On December 3 1973, Pioneer 10 became the first
spacecraft to obtain close-up images of the gas giant and to chart
its intense radiation belts. It passed by Jupiter within 130,354
kilometers of the Planet's cloudtops. In addition, Pioneer 10
located the planet's magnetic field and discovered that Jupiter is
predominantly a liquid planet.
* Following its encounter with
Jupiter, Pioneer 10 explored the outer regions of the Solar
System, studying the solar wind as well as cosmic rays from deep
* In 1983 Pioneer 10 became the first
manmade object to leave the solar system when it passed the orbit of Pluto, the
most distant planet from the Sun.
* NASA officially ended the
Pioneer 10 mission on 31 March 1997. Scientists continued to
use the spacecraft as part of a study of communication technology for
NASA's future Interstellar Probe mission. Pioneer's weak signal has been tracked
by Nasa's Deep Space Network.
* Until February, 1998, Pioneer 10
was the most distant space probe launched from earth, however in
that month (on February 17, 1998),
Voyager 1 became the most
distant space probe, at 6.5 billion miles (10.4 billion
kilometers) from Earth. The two are headed in almost opposite
directions away from the Sun.
* The last time a Pioneer 10 contact returned telemetry data was on 27 April
2002. Pioneer's last, very weak signal was received on 23 January 2003. Pioneer
10's radioisotope power source has decayed, and it may not have enough power to
send additional transmissions to Earth. NASA has no additional contact attempts
planned for Pioneer 10.
The Pioneer 10 spacecraft continues to coast toward the star Aldebaran in the constellation
Taurus (the Bull). It will take 2 million years to reach it.
Did you know?
- The Pioneer 10 mission was originally designed for a 21
months, however, Pioneer 10 exceeded all expectations and lasted
more than 30 years.
- Pioneer 11 followed it in 1974.