SYNOPSIS: TWENTY-ONE MONTHS AGO A RELATIVELY SMALL SPACECRAFT WAS LAUNCHED TOWARD THE PLANET JUPITER. CALLED?
SYNOPSIS: TWENTY-ONE MONTHS AGO A RELATIVELY SMALL SPACECRAFT WAS LAUNCHED TOWARD THE PLANET JUPITER. CALLED PIONEER, IT IS ONE OF TWO SUCH CRAFT WITH SIMILAR MISSIONS.
AT THE TIME OF RENDEZVOUS WITH THE GIANT BANDED PLANET, PIONEER TEN WILL HAVE TRAVELLED 620 MILLION MILES THROUGH SPACE. WHAT DO WE KNOW NOW AND WHAT WILL WE TRY TO LEARN AS PIONEER SWINGS BY JUPITER...?
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This is a model of the planet Jupiter as it appears through the telescope and you will note that it has a banded structure in its atmosphere. The present theory for this has to do with the fact that it is rotates more than twice in one day.
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DR. JOHN WOLFE OF NASA'S AMES RESEARCH CENTRE NEAR SAN FRANCISCO IS PROJECT SCIENTIST FOR THE PIONEER PROGRAM.
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...has to do with trying to get some understanding of what this atmospheric structure is.
Meteorologists, for example, who study our own weather here on earth are interested in weather on other planets and, again, from a comparative point of view, because it helps us understand our own weather system much better. One of the most prominent features as observed from earth is what they call the great red spot. The size of the spot is about equal to three earth diameters, so this sort of puts the planet in perspective. It Pioneer 10 is successful, then we will try to target the Pioneer 11 spacecraft to either come closer, if we find out that the radiation belts that surround Jupiter are not as one might suspect -- on the other hand, if they turn out to be very damaging then we could target the spacecraft much further out.
AT 6:26 P.M. PACIFIC STANDARD TIME ON DECEMBER THIRD, PIONEER TEN WILL ENCOUNTER JUPITER, AND BEGIN TO RETURN SOME 300 COLOUR PICTURES GIVING MAN HIS FIRST TRULY CLOSE-UP VIEW OF THAT GREAT PLANET.
ANOTHER PLANETARY EXPLORER JUST RECENTLY LAUNCHED IS MARINER TEN, SHOWN HERE DURING FINAL CHECKOUT AT NASA'S KENNEDY SPACE CENTRE, FLORIDA.
AFTER LEAVING THE LAUNCH PAD, MARINER USED THE EARTH AND THE MOON AS A PICTURE-TAKING MODEL TO CALIBRATE ITS TWO TELEVISION CAMERAS. CAMERAS THAT WILL BE USED TO PHOTOGRAPH VENUS AND MERCURY.
AS MARINER APPROACHES VENUS WITH THE SUN BETWEEN SPACECRAFT AND PLANET,IT APPEARS AS A THINLY LIGHTED CRESCENT. THE CRESCENT GROWS AS THE TWO TV CAMERAS COMMENCE TAKING PICTURES.
FLYING WITHIN 3,000 MILES THE SPACECRAFT WILL STUDY THE THICK CLOUDS THAT BLOCK ALL EARTH OBSERVATION OF VENUS.
UP TILL NOW, ONLY EARTH-BASED RADAR HAS BEEN ABLE TO PENETRATE THE CLOUD LAYER.
AS MARINER FLIES BY VENUS IT WILL, USE THAT PLANET'S GRAVITY TO PROPEL IT ON IT A SLINGSHOT FASHION TOWARD THE PRIME TARGET...MERCURY. ON MARCH 29, 1974...
DURING THE FIRST HOUR AFTER ENCOUNTER, MARINER'S CAMERAS WILL RECORD STRIPS OF PICTURES LIKE THIS.
AND ONE HOUR LATER, LIKE THIS.
OBJECTS AS SMALL AS 300 FEET ACROSS WILL BE PHOTOGRAPHED AND TRANSMITTED BACK TO EARTH.
SCIENTISTS WILL BE LOOKING TO SEE IF MERCURY HAS AN ATMOSPHERE OR A MAGNETIC FIELD. THE TINY PLANET'S TEMPERATURE WILL ALSO BE MEASURED. ALL THIS NEW INFORMATION, AN EFFORT TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE NEIGHBOURING PLANETS THAT SHARE OUR SOLAR SYSTEM WITH US.