The tiny United States spacecraft, Pioneer Ten, triumphantly passed through the fierce radiation above the giant planet Jupiter on Tuesday (4 December), and flew on towards the black depths of outer space.
Pictures of Jupiter (4 shots)
Picture taken during the approach Described as one of the best, with Jupiter on left and Ganymade on right
Picture showing Jupiter's red spot
Picture of Jupiter close up
GV INT Pioneer Mission Control Centre with scientists at work
REPORTER: "These are some of the latest pictures of Jupiter received here at the Ames Research Centre. Close-ups of clouds, beamed back by Pioneer as it flew by the planet. The clouds were a lot brighter than expected, that's why these close-ups don't show the brilliant colours as wells as some of the pictures received while the spacecraft was approaching Jupiter. They will be improved by computer processing in the next few days. This is one of the best pictures received during the approach. It show Jupiter and -- to the right -- Ganymade, one of the four moons of Jupiter. Brown and small; dwarfed by a planet that's a thousand times larger than Earth. Other approach pictures show Jupiter's giant red spot quite clearly -- a land mark, three and half times the size of Earth; that's the prime target for Pioneer's exploration. The scientists here say the pictures have revealed no surprises so far, except for the unexpected brilliance of the planet. But in Pioneer Mission Control, read-outs from some of the other Pioneer equipment have changed some....."
"....preconceived notions. Particularly the magnetic and radiation fields that surround the planet. They've turned out to be dish shaped, rather than circles, and the radiation is about a million times more intense than the radiation belt around earth. There is still some concern here in Mission Control that all that radiation may have damaged some of the delicate electronic equipment on board the Pioneer. But, with luck, they hope the spacecraft will survive to continue its journey, and eventually become the first man-made machine to fly out of our solar system. Roy Neil, NBC News, Mountain View, California."
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Background: The tiny United States spacecraft, Pioneer Ten, triumphantly passed through the fierce radiation above the giant planet Jupiter on Tuesday (4 December), and flew on towards the black depths of outer space. The scientists at the Pioneer Mission Base at Mountain View, California, described the spacecraft's performance as a complete success.
As Pioneer approached Jupiter, the scientists were afraid that it would be burnt up, or its instruments crippled by the heavy banks of powerful radiation it was passing through. The Mission's Science Director, Dr. John Wolfe, said the radiation was like "a whopping solar flare". Because the craft had survived the point of closest approach by Tuesday, he said the outward bound journey was guaranteed to be successful.
Pioneer has already achieved a number of historic first. It was the first man-made object to successfully negotiate the thick belt of meteors between Earth and Jupiter. It has also travelled further and faster than any other spacecraft. When it passes beyond the solar system, it will become the first man-made object ever to enter outer space.
It should continue to transmit signals until 1979 when it will have reached a distance equal to the orbit of Uranus,some one thousand, eight hundred million miles away. Among the pictures it transmitted back to Earth during the approach, was one showing the largest of Jupiter's four moons, Ganymade. It is larger than the planet Mercury, and showed up as a saucer shaped object. Other colour photographs show the planet's huge red spot, and horizontal red, yellow and blue stripes across the surface