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Original Date: Sat, 2 Mar 2002 07:59:31 -0500 (EST)
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Ananova - Nasa tries to wake-up ageing space probe
A spacecraft launched 30 years ago will get a wake-up call this week.
Nasa will try to re-establish contact with the Pioneer 10 craft to
see if it is still in working order.
Contact was last made with the spacecraft in April 2001, for the
first time in almost a year.
Staff at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Deep Space Network
in Madrid will carry out the test this weekend.
David Lozier, the probe's flight director, said: "We're going to try
again this year to see if Pioneer 10 still lives on.
"We are hopeful that the successful contacts with the spacecraft that
we had last year will be repeated this year."
In 2001 the signal took 22 hours to get to the craft and return to
Pioneer 10's project manager Dr Larry Lasher said: "We had been
listening for the Pioneer 10 signal with no success. So we felt that
in order for Pioneer 10 to talk to us, we might need to talk to it."
It was launched in 1972 and got the first close-up images of Jupiter
before becoming the first man-made object to leave the solar system
Its mission officially ended in 1997 and it is now 7.4 billion miles
from Earth on its way toward Taurus, where it will pass the
constellation's nearest star in about two million years.
Story filed: 09:56 Thursday 28th February 2002
Copyright co 2002 Ananova Ltd
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