Pioneer Saturn Encounter

Національне управління з аеронавтики і дослідження космічного простору Pioneer Saturn Encounter
Рік видання:
2017 р.
Project Gutenberg
Національне управління з аеронавтики і дослідження космічного простору
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We have entered into a new era of space exploration. Missions undertaken during the lunar exploration of the 1960’s typically lasted a matter of days with commands issued and carried out in near real time. Now, a decade later, planetary voyages may last for many years as the spiraling trajectories of the spacecraft make periodic intersections with the orbits of the planets. Communicating with us across the vastness of space, these spacecraft report to us their experiences as they traverse the outer reaches of the solar system.

Among these deep space travelers, Pioneers 10 and 11 are appropriately named, for they truly are pioneering the exploration of the outer solar system. Launched in 1972 and in 1973, respectively, they were the first spacecraft to fly by Jupiter (in 1973 and 1974). At Jupiter, Pioneer 11’s trajectory was carefully targeted to swing it toward Saturn for an encounter in September 1979. We see some of the early results in this publication.

Other spacecraft are following along the trail blazed by Pioneer Saturn. Voyager 1 passed by Jupiter in March 1979 and will reach Saturn in November 1980. Voyager 2 has also passed beyond Jupiter and will encounter Saturn in August 1981, with the further possibility of traveling on to Uranus (a 1986 encounter). Under development are the Galileo orbiter and atmospheric entry probe, destined to journey to Jupiter where the orbiter will return more detailed information, including high-resolution pictures of the Galilean satellites, and the probe will penetrate deep below the Jovian clouds.

In the coming years, each of these follow-on missions will enrich our understanding of the solar system, greatly supplementing the observations of Pioneers 10 and 11. But one thing will never change. The Pioneers were first.

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