Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Moon Pioneer 10 spacecraft align in Taurus

Tonight is Thursday, Jan 08 2009

Moon Pioneer 10 spacecraft align in Taurus

Tonight, the waxing gibbous moon shines in front of the constellation
Taurus the Bull. Unfortunately, the big, bright moon will wash out
most of the constellation's stars. Despite the moonlit glare, you may
note Taurus' brightest star, Aldebaran, to the right of the moon this
evening, and Elnath, Taurus' second brightest star, to the left of the

This Thursday evening, the moon almost pinpoints where the Pioneer 10
spacecraft is moving away from Earth and toward the constellation
Taurus. But keep in mind that the moon resides only a little over one
light-second from Earth, whereas Pioneer 10 lies in the hinterlands of
the solar system at some 13.4 light-hours away. Even though the moon
and Pioneer 10 are in close alignment as seen from Earth, the two are
nowhere near one another.

Was looking for something interesting for this 8th day of January and
our friend Google said look here, up in the sky, out toward the Moon
and off towards Taurus.

We do remember Pioneer 10 who finally quit talking to us but still has
folks wondering why it might be slowing down just a bit, yes?

Well that brought back memories. Pioneer 10 data being read on a Mac
Quadra 950 with a program written in NI's LabVIEW version 3.0 a long
time ago by yours truly. What fun, trying to read software
programming guides with all those 'TBD' fill in spots and then reading
assembly printouts for the original telemetry program algorithms.

Now talking no more. Just a plaque showing the aliens where we are.
Going, going, gone.

Wipe away a tear.

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

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Pioneer 10 (also called Pioneer-F) was the first spacecraft to travel
through the asteroid belt, which it entered on July 15, 1972, and to
make direct observations of Jupiter, which it passed by on December 3,
1973. It was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch
Complex 36A on March 2, 1972. Pioneer 10 is heading in the direction
of Aldebaran, located in Taurus. By some definitions, Pioneer 10 has
become the first artificial object to leave the solar system. It is
surely the first human-built object to have been set upon a trajectory
leading out of the solar system. However, it still has not passed the
heliopause or Oort cloud[1].

Its objectives were to study the interplanetary and planetary magnetic
fields; solar wind parameters; cosmic rays; transition region of the
heliosphere; neutral hydrogen abundance; distribution, size, mass,
flux, and velocity of dust particles; Jovian aurorae; Jovian radio
waves; atmosphere of Jupiter and some of its satellites, particularly
Io; and to photograph Jupiter and its satellites.


Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to travel through the asteroid
belt and reach the outer solar system, flying past Jupiter at a
distance of about 130,354 km (81,000 miles) from the cloudtops. [See
current missions to Jupiter.] During its Jupiter encounter, Pioneer 10
imaged the planet and its moons, and took measurements of Jupiter's
magnetosphere, radiation belts, magnetic field, atmosphere, and
interior. These measurements of the intense radiation environment near
Jupiter were crucial in designing the Voyager and Galileo spacecraft.

Also, as the first spacecraft to use a planetary gravity assist to
change its velocity, Pioneer 10 then headed out of the solar system in
the direction opposite to the Sun's motion through the Milky Way
galaxy. Except for Voyager 1, which is travelling in the opposite
direction, Pioneer 10 is farther from Earth than any other human
artifact. Even so, it will take another 2 million years for Pioneer 10
to reach the first star on its trajectory. Pioneer 10 carries a plaque
intended to communicate something about its home planet should the
spacecraft ever meet up with another intelligent species. Routine
tracking of Pioneer 10 ended in 1997, but the spacecraft continued to
send out signals until January 2003.




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