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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Aug 4, 2004 10:57:29 GMT -6
Pionners 10 and 11 are deaccerlerating from unknown unfluences
An unknown force seeming to pull on a pair of distant space probes has left astronomers with a weighty mystery, one that appears to defy the conventional laws of physics. The Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 spacecraft, which for decades have steadily traveled in opposite directions in the solar system, have covered significantly less space than they should have according to astronomers.
A team of NASA researchers has systematically attempted to determine what has slowed the sibling NASA robot ships, to no avail. "Something is slowing down the spacecraft, and we have not been successful in finding the source of that. There is more slowing than you would expect from Newtonian gravity" said John Anderson, a senior scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
The probes have traveled far beyond Jupiter since their launch in the early 1970s. But astronomers have been able to measure with great precision the trajectories and distances of the pair. Noticing that Pioneer 10 was unexpectedly lagging on its journey away from the sun, they speculated that an unknown object could have been exerting an influence.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Dec 10, 2005 2:21:20 GMT -6
The Pioneer Anomaly
Here's another story from the Planetary Society of the Pioneer spacecraft mystery...
Something strange is happening in the outer reaches of our solar system. The Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft are not where they are supposed to be. These missions, launched in 1972 and 1973, have covered hundreds of millions of kilometers, heading toward the edge of our solar system. But something is holding them back. Each year, they fall behind in their projected travel by about 5,000 kilometers (8,000 miles).
Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist John Anderson and his colleagues have been searching for an explanation since 1980. But as of yet, they have found nothing conclusive; no spacecraft behavior or previously unknown property of the outer solar system can explain the deceleration of the Pioneer spacecraft. Scientists are being forced to consider the unthinkable: something may be wrong with our understanding of the laws of physics. An important line of inquiry will be to study mounds of Doppler (velocity) data and spacecraft status data (like temperatures) that have been unavailable to researchers—but that is about to change.
The Planetary Society, using support from its members, is currently sponsoring the recovery of Doppler and spacecraft status data, as well as analysis of that data. NASA was not ready to allocate resources to recover the Pioneer data, or sponsor its analysis. Anderson and his colleague Slava Turyshev, contacted The Planetary Society for help, requesting funds to support the use of the antiquated computers to read out the pre-1987 Pioneer tapes and convert them to a format useable by researchers. And, they sought funding to seek additional sources of Pioneer data, and to support analyses of the data. The Planetary Society sent an appeal to members to help save the data from destruction and then support the complex analyses necessary to solve the mystery. Our members and supporters responded with unprecedented enthusiasm.
The process was started, and is going very well. The data are successfully being recovered and saved. They will be made available for other researchers as well, and analysis will be starting soon. In our updates section, you can learn more. Only about 11 years of data had been analyzed in detail before. We hope to recover data covering nearly 30 years to help solve the mystery, in addition to recovering never before analyzed spacecraft status data that will be valuable in assessing possible spacecraft influences on the anomaly.
Perhaps we are in some sort of "Bubble" forged out of the unknown by the presence of our Star. Some have theorized that our brand of physics is local...in that different laws behave differently in other places in the universe(s).
But those damned little machines keep on ticking away...
Chicago Astronomer Joe Founder, Administrator and Chief Astronomer
Telescope/Observatory Docent Facilitator Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
Astronomy Instructor Instituto Del Progresso/IHSCA
Astronomy Program Instructor British International School of Chicago /Lincoln Park Campus
Resident Astronomer Chicago Park District Nature Oasis/Night Out in the Parks/ 606 Trail
A bubble would be a hard pill to swallow. Sicence does not like to talk about it, but it is founded on a small handful of assumptions. One of them is that the laws of physics are the same here as there, the same today as yesterday or tomorrow. Throw that out the window and you have a perplexing time deciding what it is you're looking at when you make any observation.
If the universe is a ball the size of America, then the solar system is almost as large as the smallest cell in the human body.