Tag Archives: Interplanetary Probe

25 January 2004, 05:05 UTC SCET

"The interior of a crater surrounding the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity at Meridiani Planum on Mars can be seen in this color image from the rover's panoramic camera. This is the darkest landing site ever visited by a spacecraft on Mars. The rim of the crater is approximately 10 meters (32 feet) from the rover. The crater is estimated to be 20 meters (65 feet) in diameter. Scientists are intrigued by the abundance of rock outcrops dispersed throughout the crater, as well as the crater's soil, which appears to be a mixture of coarse gray grains and fine reddish grains. Data taken from the camera's near-infrared, green and blue filters were combined to create this approximate true color picture, taken on the first day of Opportunity's journey. The view is to the west-southwest of the rover."
“The interior of a crater surrounding the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity at Meridiani Planum on Mars can be seen in this color image from the rover’s panoramic camera. This is the darkest landing site ever visited by a spacecraft on Mars. The rim of the crater is approximately 10 meters (32 feet) from the rover. The crater is estimated to be 20 meters (65 feet) in diameter. Scientists are intrigued by the abundance of rock outcrops dispersed throughout the crater, as well as the crater’s soil, which appears to be a mixture of coarse gray grains and fine reddish grains. Data taken from the camera’s near-infrared, green and blue filters were combined to create this approximate true color picture, taken on the first day of Opportunity’s journey. The view is to the west-southwest of the rover.” (NASA Jet propulsion Laboratory)

25 January 2004: Mars Exploration Rover–B, named Opportunity, landed at Meridiani Planum on the surface of Mars at 5:05 a.m., UTC SCET (Spacecraft Event Time) and rolled into a small crater, approximately 22 meters (72 feet) in diameter.

Meridiani Planum is near the center of this image of Mars, photographed from the Mars Orbiter Mission, 28 September 2014, at an altitude of 74,582 kilometers (46,343 miles). (The Bruce Murray Space Image Library)

The crater would later be named Eagle Crater, and the landing site is named Challenger Memorial Station. The site is on the opposite side of the planet from Opportunity‘s twin, MER-A, Spirit.

“This image taken by the panoramic camera onboard the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the rover’s now-empty lander, the Challenger Memorial Station, at Meridiani Planum, Mars. The image was acquired on the 24th martian day, or sol, of Opportunity’s mission at approximately 13:00 Local Solar Time. This is a mosaic image consisting of 12 color images acquired with the camera’s red, green and blue filters. The color balance has been set to approximate the colors that a human eye would see.” (NASA/JPL/Cornell)
Artist’s conception of a NASA Mars Exploration Rover on the surface of Mars. (JPL)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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23 January 2003

Artist's conception of Pioneer 10 in the outer solar system. (NASA)
Artist’s conception of Pioneer 10 in the outer solar system. (NASA)

23 January 2003: The final, very weak signal from Pioneer 10 was received on January 23, 2003 when it was 12 billion kilometers (80 Astronomical Units) from Earth.

The space probe was launched from Earth at 01:49:00 UTC, 2 March 1972, aboard an Atlas Centaur rocket.

On January 1, 2016, Pioneer 10 was predicted to be 114.07 au from the Earth (about 10 billion miles); and traveling at 12.04 km/s (26,900 mph) (relative to the Sun) and traveling outward at about 2.54 au per year. Voyager 2 is projected to pass Pioneer 10 by April 2019. Sunlight takes 14.79 hours to reach Pioneer 10. The brightness of the Sun from the spacecraft is magnitude −16.6. Pioneer 10 is heading in the direction of the constellation Taurus.

If left undisturbed, Pioneer 10 and its sister craft Pioneer 11 will join the two Voyager spacecraft and the New Horizons spacecraft in leaving the Solar System to wander the interstellar medium. The Pioneer 10 trajectory is expected to take it in the general direction of the star Aldebaran, currently located at a distance of about 68 light years. If Aldebaran had zero relative velocity, it would require more than two million years for the spacecraft to reach it. — Wikipedia

Pioneer 10 is launched aboard an Atlas Centaur rocket at Space Launch Complex 36A, 01:49:00 UTC, 2 March 1972. (NASA)
Pioneer 10 is launched aboard an Atlas Centaur rocket at Space Launch Complex 36A, 01:49:00 UTC, 2 March 1972. (NASA)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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4 January 2004

Mars rover Spirit landing site. The lander is at the low center of the image. at upper left are the backshell and parachute. The lander's heat shield is at the upper right on the rim of the crater. This image was taken in December 2006. (NASA)
Mars rover Spirit landing site. The lander is at the low center of the image. At upper left are the backshell and parachute. The lander’s heat shield is at the upper right on the rim of the crater. This image was taken in December 2006. (NASA)

4 January 2004, 04:35 Ground UTC: The NASA Mars Exploration Rover A, named Spirit, landed on the surface of Mars within the large impact crater Gusev. The location of touch down and the starting point for the rover’s exploration of Mars is named Columbia Memorial Station.

Spirit captured this color image of the surface of Mars from its landing point at Columbia Memorial Station. The horizon is approximately 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) distant. (NASA)
Spirit captured this color image of the surface of Mars from its landing point at Columbia Memorial Station. The horizon is approximately 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) distant. (NASA)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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3 December 1973, 02:26:00 UTC

Photographic image of the planet Jupiter, taken by Pioneer 10, 3 December 1973. (NASA)
Photographic image of the planet Jupiter, taken by Pioneer 10, 3 December 1973. (NASA)

3 December 1973: At 02:26:00 UTC, the NASA interplanetary probe Pioneer 10 reached its closest approach to the gas giant, Jupiter, estimated at 130,000 kilometers (81,000 miles) above the planet’s cloud tops. At that time, Pioneer 10 had a velocity of approximately 132,000 kilometers per hour (82,000 miles per hour).

Composite of images of the planet Saturn during Pioneer 10’s approach (lower images, left to right) and departure (upper images, right to left). NASA

During the encounter with Jupiter, more than 500 photographic images were made and transmitted to Earth. A variety of measurements were made by sensors aboard the space craft.

An artist’s conception of Pioneer 10 at Jupiter. (NASA)

Pioneer 10 was built by the TRW Space and Technology Group, Redondo Beach, California, for the NASA Ames Research Laboratory. It was launched by a three-stage Atlas Centaur rocket from Launch Complex 36A, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, 2 March 1972.

The last signal received from Pioneer 10 was on 23 January 2003. At that time, the probe was an estimated 12 billion kilometers (80 Astronomical Units) from Earth.

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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22 October 1975, 05:13 UTC

Image of the surface of Venus captured by the Venera 9 lander, 22 october 1975. (NASA)
Digitally enhanced image of the surface of Venus captured by the Venera 9 lander, 22 October 1975. (NASA)
Mosaic of images of the surface of Venus captured by the Venera 9 lander, 22 October 1975.
Mosaic of images of the surface of Venus captured by the Venera 9 lander, 22 October 1975. The rocks are estimated to be 30–40 centimeters across. (NASA)

22 October 1975, 05:13 UTC:  The lander from the Soviet space probe Venera 9 touched down on the surface of the planet Venus, at approximately 32° south latitude, 291° east longitude.

Venera 9 lander. (nasa)
Venera 9 lander. (NASA)

The images and other data was transmitted to an orbiting section of Venera 9 for relay to Earth. The lander sent signals for approximately 53 minutes before the orbiter traveled out of range.

Venera 9 orbiter. (NASA)
Venera 9 orbiter. (NASA)

Venera 9 had been launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Proton-K rocket, 8 June 1975. The space probe weighed 4,936 kilograms (10,882 pounds).

Once in orbit around Venus, the spacecraft separated into the orbiter and lander. As the lander descended to the surface, data was collected about the planet’s atmosphere. A 40-kilometer (25-mile) deep layer of clouds was studied. The cloud bases were about 35–40 kilometers (22–25 miles) above the surface. The clouds contained hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid, bromine and iodine.

At the planet’s surface the atmospheric pressure was 90 times that of Earth’s. The temperature was measured at 485 °C. (905 °F.).

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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