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Meteoroid Detectors

NSSDC ID: 1972-012A-04
Mission Name: Pioneer 10
Principal Investigator: Dr. William H. Kinard


This experiment was designed to measure the number of meteoroid impacts on the Pioneer 10 spacecraft. The instrument was sensitive to meteoroids of mass approximately 1E-9 g. The instrumentation consisted of 234 cells pressurized with an argon-nitrogen mixture. Penetration of the 25-micrometer-thick skin of the cell resulted in the loss of gas at a rate proportional to the size of the hole. Gas loss was detected with a cold cathode device. The cells were initially pressurized to 1175 torrs at 295 deg Kelvin. The cells were formed by welding together two sheets of stainless steel in a configuration resembling an air mattress. The exposed area of each cell was 2.45E-3 sq m. The cells were mounted on the back of the high gain antenna dish. For a description of the experiment see Humes, D. H. et al., 1974, J. Geophys. Res., v. 79, pp. 3677-3684. This instrument was turned off in October 1980.

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science (United States)


  • Planetary Science: Small Bodies
  • Space Physics: Zodiacal Light/Interplanet Dust

Additional Information

Questions or comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. John F. Cooper.



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. Robert L. O'NealOther InvestigatorNASA Langley Research Center 
Dr. William H. KinardPrincipal InvestigatorNASA Langley Research
Mr. Donald H. HumesOther InvestigatorNASA Langley Research
Mr. Jose M. AlvarezOther InvestigatorNASA Langley Research Center 
Mr. Richard E. TurnerOther InvestigatorNASA Langley Research Center 
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