Skip to comments.The Unfinished Quest to Solve the Pioneer Anomaly (unknown gravitational effect)
Posted on 05/11/2005 6:33:22 AM PDT by Arkie2
It began with the search for Planet X. By 1979, Pioneer 10 had accomplished its original mission to become the first Earth-born spacecraft to explore Jupiter and was on its way out of our solar system, flying toward the star Aldebaran a destination it should reach some two million years from now.
On its way out, Pioneer 10 became a useful partner in an experiment of celestial mechanics. By closely monitoring its trajectory, scientists might detect an unexpected gravitational tug that could betray the existence of the long-hypothesized Planet X. Based largely on unexplained motions in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, several 20th-century astronomers had suggested the existence of an undiscovered world at the edge of our solar system.
John D. Anderson, a veteran JPL scientist, took on the task of studying the Pioneer 10 and 11 radio signal data for any sign of Planet X. His search had come up empty. For this reason, among others, John and his team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory became convinced that the chance of discovering a 10th planet was slim, as they reported in the May/June 1999 issue of The Planetary Report. But in early 1980, John and his team began to see signs of something elsesomething quite unexpected. While searching for Planet X, we noticed that the tracking data did not quite fit with the existing solar system model. They showed an anomalous accelerationin this case, an acceleration backward. It did not match any expected Planet X force, and we couldnt immediately explain it. When theoretical models do not fit experimental data, standard scientific practice is to find a reason for the mismatch. Therefore, we embarked on a program to study the anomalous acceleration.
We studied the spacecraft themselves, looking for some systematic explanation connected to the hardware. After all systematics were accounted for, the tracking data still showed an anomalous acceleration toward the Sun even while the Pioneers are traveling out of the solar system. This result has ramifications to fields as diverse as theoretical physics and deep-space navigation. To account for this Pioneer anomaly, we may be forced to resort to what some are calling a new physics.
The Spacecraft On March 2, 1972, Pioneer 10 was launched on an Atlas/Centaur rocket from Cape Canaveral. Pioneer 10 was Earths first space probe to an outer planet, encountering Jupiter on December 4, 1973. Pioneer 11 followed its sister ship to Jupiter, and continued on to encounter Saturn on September 1, 1979.
Bump for later reading
whatever happenned to the new planet, selena, or something like that?
Gaseous anomolies in the neutral zone?........
interesting read... thanks!
I remember when the shuttle disintegrated and the techies kept saying the guages went "off scale low".
Now they say "unexplained acceleration backward".
So is it too far away or too close?
If an object, travling out of the solar system displays "an anomalous acceleration toward the Sun" does it really mean it's unexpectedly SLOWING?
Also, would not the unexplained motions in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune coupled with this slowing provide three points of reference?
If a single phenomona could explain all three that might just be considered a clue...
"If an object, travling out of the solar system displays "an anomalous acceleration toward the Sun" does it really mean it's unexpectedly SLOWING?"
That was my read, too.
I blame Xenu and his invading force of aliens in DC-10s.
Bump for later.
its them lousy reptilians AGAIN!!
I'm not surprised there's an anomaly, considering nobody's figured gravity out yet.
I heard there was fierce competition between Airbus and Boeing for that account... ;)
are you sure it ain't "Quagaar"?
Very instructive as to how scientists work.
See The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Kuhn.
We live inside a large refelective sphere. Everything you see is a reflection and it is impossible to get out of the sphere. [sillyness off]
I think you're right. Our universe is just a mirror ball in a birdbath in the garden of some superior being.
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