Projects: Pioneer Anomaly Mar 19, 2006 9:16:38 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Mar 19, 2006 9:16:38 GMT -6
The Final Attempt to Contact Pioneer 10
March 6, 2006
In early March 2006, for the very last time the Earth was in a favorable position to receive Pioneer 10's radio signal. It was considered possible that Pioneer 10 would still be able to transmit, despite the age of its electronics, the extreme coldness of deep space, and the diminishing amount of electrical power on board.
The Deep Space Network attempted to reacquire Pioneer 10's weak signal, with the hope, however faint, that we may yet have another data point to aid in our investigation of the Pioneers' enigmatic behavior. Pioneer Anomaly Team member Slava Turyshev reports on the outcome of this final attempt to make contact with Pioneer 10.
Update from the Pioneer Anomaly Team
We carried out the observations of the Pioneer 10 spacecraft, per a proposal that was approved by NASA earlier last week, on Friday and Saturday nights, March 3 and 4, 2006 (local time). Sadly, there was no real-time detection of a carrier signal from the spacecraft.
We did carry out open-loop RSR [Radio Science Receiver] recordings of the two passes for archiving. We will process the recordings using parameters that would increase the resolution over the real-time spectral reporting by the receiver, and search for a signal.
At this time, our team does not suspect any errors in our planning, pointing, uplink strategy, or ground receivers tuning predictions, which would explain Pioneer 10's silence. If the signal is not detected in the post-pass processing then we speculate that spacecraft components have degraded faster than was thought, or perhaps the RTG [Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator] output was no longer sufficient to power the S-band TWT [Traveling Wave Tube] amplifier. This is likely the end of this part of the Pioneer 10 story.
We are now almost ready to start analysis of the entire data set that was recently assembled at JPL.
Story here: planetary.org/programs/projects/pioneer_anomaly/update_200603.html
It's is thought that the determined spacecrafts still are operational, but the signal is so feeble and weak that we no longer can pick it up. ]
Calling home...but no one answers...how sad...