On Feb. 15, 1973, Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to pass through the asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. After the successful traverse of the asteroid belt, considered a spectacular achievement of its time, Pioneer 10 ultimately became the first spacecraft to make direct observations and take close-up pictures of Jupiter. This artist’s rendering depicts the spacecraft’s trajectory. Using technology and designs from previous Pioneer missions, Pioneer 10 and its twin Pioneer 11 explored the outer solar system through a series of unmanned probes. Managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley and built by TRW Inc. in Euclid, Ohio, Pioneer 10 spent 30 years exploring deep space, highlighted by a number of first discoveries in NASA’s history of exploration.
Author: Danielle Carmichael, NASA’s Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley
Image credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/Rick Guidice