Pioneer 10: First Spacecraft to Leave the Solar System (Fact of the Day)

Pioneer 10 is an American spacecraft launched on March 3, 1972. The main goal of the spacecraft was to flyby Jupiter and eventually fly out of the solar system. The spacecraft has many accomplishments to its name and some of them are as follows. It is the first spacecraft to fly beyond Mars' orbit, through the Asteroid Belt, flyby Jupiter and eventually flying past the furthest planet at that time, Neptune, on 13th June 1983. Thus, it became the first spacecraft to leave the Solar System. On January 23 2003, all the connections were lost with the spacecraft when it was 12 billion km (80 AU) from Earth. In the current speed of 12.51 km/s or 28,000 miles/hr (which is approx. 0.000041 the speed of light), the spacecraft would pass the nearest star in its trajectory, Aldebaran, in about 2 million years.

Image Credit: Solar System Exploration
Source: NASA


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