A faithful servant of humanity and a true explorer of the unknown looks back home...
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NASA PRESS RELEASE: 03-082
Feb. 25, 2003
PIONEER 10 SPACECRAFT SENDS LAST SIGNAL
After more than 30 years, it appears the venerable Pioneer 10 spacecraft has sent its last signal to Earth. Pioneer's last, very weak signal was received on Jan. 22, 2003.
NASA engineers report Pioneer 10's radioisotope power source has decayed, and it may not have enough power to send additional transmissions to Earth. NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) did not detect a signal during the last contact attempt Feb. 7, 2003. The previous three contacts, including the Jan. 22 signal, were very faint with no telemetry received. The last time a Pioneer 10 contact returned telemetry data was April 27, 2002. NASA has no additional contact attempts planned for Pioneer 10.
"Pioneer 10 was a pioneer in the true sense of the word. After it passed Mars on its long journey into deep space, it was venturing into places where nothing built by humanity had ever gone before," said Dr. Colleen Hartman, director of NASA's Solar System Exploration Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington. "It ranks among the most historic as well as the most scientifically rich exploration missions ever undertaken," she said.
"Originally designed for a 21-month mission, Pioneer 10 lasted more than 30 years. It was a workhorse that far exceeded its warranty, and I guess you could say we got our money's worth," said Pioneer 10 Project Manager, Dr. Larry Lasher.
"From Ames Research Center and the Pioneer Project, we send our thanks to the many people at the Deep Space Network (DSN) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), who made it possible to hear the spacecraft signal for this long," said Pioneer 10 Flight Director David Lozier.
Requiescat in pace, Pioneer 10...and thanks for a job well done. You shall not be forgotten.