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Pioneer 10

NSSDCA ID: 1972-012A

Telecommunications Description

The DSN supported the Pioneer spacecraft deep space tracking, uplink commands, and downlink data acquisition during the mission with 26-m, 34-m, 64-m, and 70-m antennas at Goldstone, Madrid, and Canberra. Overlapping coverage by two stations was used to prevent loss of data. The spacecraft carried three antennas for reception and transmission - low gain (omnidirectional), medium gain, and high gain (beamed) - with pairs of redundant transmitters and receivers, so the ground uplink and downlink DSN antennas could be switched between the different antenna sizes to accommodate telemetry demands from other missions. Downlink telemetry bit rates were at a maximum of 2048 bps enroute to Jupiter and 1024 bps at Jupiter but were maintained at 1024 bps out to Saturn's orbit due to increases in DSN antenna sensitivity. Reduced bit rates were required during superior conjunctions with the Sun. Pioneer 10 could receive uplink commands only (due to a receiver problem preventing use of the high gain antenna) from the 70-m antennas at 55 AU from the Sun in mid-1992, and the 70-mt antennas were needed to maintain the downlink bit rate at 16 bps. Routine tracking ceased on March 31, 1997, although the still operable spacecraft continued to be tracked occasionally through 1998 as part of training exercises for operators of the Lunar Prospector spacecraft. Limited 70 meter DSN coverage was expected to be available at least through June of 1998.

Telemetry Path

Telemetry support via Deep Space Network (DSN)

Effective Telemetry

0.45 kbps

Telemetry Rates

0.016 - 2.048 kbps

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. John F. Cooper

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