March 3, 1972: Pioneer 10 Launches
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1972 – NASA launched the Pioneer 10 (a.k.a. Pioneer F) from Cape Canaveral, FL. This was the first spacecraft to traverse an astroid belt. The craft collected the environmental information around Jupiter. This included solar wind, cosmic rays and other events.
Pioneer 10 successfully reached Jupiter in November 1973. It took 60 days to collect multiple pieces of information as the craft was in range of the planet. It continued on an unknown journey – passing Saturn in 1976, Uranus in 1979 and Neptune in 1983. The craft continued to send data even after the mission had officially ended in 1997.
In 2003, Pioneer 10’s signal was too weak to retrieve data – 12 billion KM away. No response has been received, so we don’t know if the spacecraft continues on its course or was destroyed.
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