This Day in Tech History

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Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known

4348084946_e09560014e June 13, 1983:  Pioneer 10 Departs our Solar System

After more than a decade in space, Pioneer 10, the world’s first outer-planetary probe, leaves the solar system. The next day, it radioed back its first scientific data on interstellar space.

pioneer-10lg Pioneer_10_on_it's_kickmotor

Construction and testing of Pioneer 10

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On March 2, 1972, the NASA spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission to Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet.  In December 1973, after successfully negotiating the asteroid belt and a distance of 620 million miles, Pioneer 10 reached Jupiter and sent back to Earth the first close-up images of the spectacular gas giant.  On June 13, 1983, the NASA spacecraft left the solar system.  NASA officially ended the Pioneer 10 project on March 31, 1997, with the spacecraft having traveled a distance of some six billion miles.

An artist's depiction of Pioneer 10 approaching Jupiter

An artist’s depiction of Pioneer 10 approaching Jupiter

Headed in the direction of the Taurus constellation, Pioneer 10 will pass within three light years of another star–Ross 246–in the year 34,600 A.D.


Bolted to the probe’s exterior wall . . . 800px-GPN-2000-001621-x . . . is a gold-anodized plaque, 6 by 9 inches in area, that displays a drawing of a human man and woman, a star map marked with the location of the sun, and another map showing the flight path of Pioneer 10.  The plaque, intended for intelligent life forms elsewhere in the galaxy, was designed by astronomer Carl Sagan. (for more info on the Pioneer Plaque:



Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known

                                                                    -Carl Sagan

Story of the Plaque


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