Pioneer 10/11

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    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

    7 of 20

    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

    8 of 20

    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

    9 of 20

    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

    12 of 20

    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

    13 of 20

    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Pioneer 10/11

    Full-scale model constructed from spare parts identical to the flight configuration of Pioneer 10. The spacecraft body is comprised of a hexogonal bus with several smaller cubes attached to the sides. This is surmounted by a very large (9 ft.) parabolic reflector. A tripod mounted on the dish supports the antenna. Three booms project from the bus in the space plane at 120 degrees from each other. Two shorter rectangular booms (10 ft. to center) terminates in the gold foil-wrapped magnetometer.

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    Map of the Mission Path of Pioneer 10 and 11

    This graphic shows the Pioneer F and G spacecraft (named Pioneer 10 and 11 after launch) flight paths through the Solar System.  The primary purpose of the missions was to travel through the asteroid belt, which both spacecraft accomplished without damage. The secondary mission was to take the first images of the giant planet Jupiter at close range. Pioneer 11 used the gravity of Jupiter to place it on a trajectory to Saturn, where it collected images of the ringed planet.

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    Pioneer 10/11 Detail

    Detail of the back of the main dish antenna on the reconstructed full-scale mock-up Pioneer 10/11 spacecraft. 

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    Data from Jupiter Gathered by the Pioneer 10 Spaceflight

    This nearly full-face view of Jupiter was made by the Pioneer 10 spacecraft from 2,695,000 kilometers (1,842,451 miles) away, as it flew past the planet, on December 1, 1974. Because Pioneer rotated for stability, it could not focus a camera lens to take photographs as ordinary cameras do. As Pioneer 10 flew by Jupiter in the fall of 1973, it made successive scans of portions of the planet. These partial images were assembled on Earth to produce this dramatic image of Jupiter’s giant "Red Spot." This was just one of the many scientific results of the Pioneer missions. 

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    Pioneer 10/11 Spacecraft

    Pioneer 10/11 were the first probes to cross the solar system’s outer reaches, 

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    Close Up of the Pioneer Spacecraft Radio-Isotope Generator

    Two "Radio-Isotope Generators" (RTG), containing Plutonium, generated heat by radioactive decay, which in turn was converted into electricity.  The Pioneer spacecraft could not be powered by solar panels, as the distance from the Sun was too great. 

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    Illustration Showing a Pioneer Spacecraft in Flight

    An artist's view of a Pioneer spacecraft heading into interstellar space.  Pioneer's last, very weak signal was received on January 22, 2003. At the time, it was 7.6 billion miles away from Earth. Traveling at the speed of light, the signal took 11 hours to reach Earth.

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Display Status:

This object is on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

For over 30 years, the Pioneer 10 spacecraft sent photographs and scientific information back to Earth. Launched March 2, 1972, it reached speeds of 52,100 kilometers (32,400 miles) per hour on its flight to Jupiter, making it one of the fastest human-made objects ever. After completing an investigation of Jupiter, Pioneer 10 continued on to the outer regions of the solar system, studying solar wind and cosmic rays.

Having gone further into space than any other object sent from Earth, Pioneer's last weak signal was received on January 22, 2003, from approximately 12.2 billion kilometers (7.6 billion miles) from Earth. NASA engineers reported that Pioneer 10's radioisotope power source had degraded and was not likely to allow future transmissions.

As it drifts into interstellar space, Pioneer 10 will continue to carry a plaque designed to inform intelligent life that may find it about the spacecraft and its origins. The prototype spacecraft displayed here was constructed for NASA by TRW, Inc.