NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive Header

Pioneer 9



Pioneer 9 was the fourth in a series of solar-orbiting, spin-stabilized, and solar-cell and battery-powered satellites designed to obtain measurements of interplanetary phenomena from widely separated points in space on a continuing basis. The spacecraft carried experiments to study the positive ions and electrons in the solar wind, the interplanetary electron density (radio propagation experiment), solar and galactic cosmic rays, the interplanetary magnetic field, cosmic dust, and electric fields. Also, a new coding process was implemented for Pioneer 9.

Its main antenna was a high-gain directional one. The spacecraft was spin-stabilized at about 60 rpm, and the spin axis was perpendicular to the ecliptic plane and pointed toward the south ecliptic pole. By ground command, one of five bit rates, one of four data formats, and one of four operating modes could be selected. The five bit rates were 512, 256, 64, 16, and 8 bps. Three of the four data formats contained primarily scientific data and consisted of 32 seven-bit words per frame. One scientific data format was used at the two highest bit rates, another was used at the three lowest bit rates, and the third contained data from only the radio-propagation experiment. The fourth data format contained mainly engineering data. The four operating modes were real-time, telemetry-store, duty-cycle store, and memory readout. In the real-time mode, data were sampled and transmitted directly (without storage) as specified by the data format and bit rate selected. In the telemetry-store mode, data were stored and transmitted simultaneously in the format and at the bit rate selected. In the duty-cycle store mode, a single frame of scientific data was collected and stored at a rate of 512 bps. The time period between collection and storage of successive frames could be varied by ground command between 2 and 17 min to provide partial data coverage for periods of up to 19 h, as limited by the bit-storage capacity. In the memory readout mode, data were read out at whatever bit rate was appropriate to the satellite distance from the Earth.

Contact with Pioneer 9 by controllers was maintained until May 1983. Mission controllers made an unsuccessful attempt in 1987 to contact the spacecraft. The mission was declared inactive at that time.

Alternate Names

  • 03533
  • PL-684K
  • Pioneer-D
  • Pioneer9
  • urn:nasa:pds:context:instrument_host:spacecraft.p9

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1968-11-08
Launch Vehicle: Delta
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 147 kg

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Planetary Science
  • Space Physics
  • Astronomy

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. Robert W. JacksonGeneral ContactNASA Ames Research Center
Mr. Robert E. RyanGeneral ContactNASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Mr. Richard O. FimmelProject ManagerNASA Ames Research Center
Dr. Palmer DyalProject ScientistNASA Ames Research Center
Dr. Albert G. OppProgram ScientistNASA Headquarters

Pioneer 6 (1965)
Pioneer 7 (1966)
Pioneer 8 (1967)
Pioneer 9 (1968)

[] NASA Logo -