Monday, June 13, 2011
PIONEER 10 SPACECRAFT SENDS LAST SIGNAL
After more than 30 years, it appears the venerable Pioneer 10 spacecraft has sent its last signal to Earth. Pioneer's last, very weak signal was received on 23 January 2003. NASA engineers report that Pioneer 10's radioisotope power source has decayed, and it may not have enough power to send additional transmissions to Earth. NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) did not detect a signal during the last contact attempt on 7 February 2003. The previous three contacts, including the 23 January signal, were very faint, with no telemetry received. The last time a Pioneer 10 contact returned telemetry data was 27 April 2002. NASA has no additional contact attempts planned for Pioneer 10.