Description

Pioneer 11 was the second mission to investigate Jupiter and the outer solar system and the first to explore the planet Saturn and its main rings. Pioneer 11, like Pioneer 10, used Jupiter's gravitational field to alter its trajectory radically. It passed close to Saturn and then it followed an escape trajectory from the solar system.

The spacecraft was 2.9 m long and contained a 2.74-m diameter high-gain antenna of aluminum honeycomb sandwich material whose feed was topped with a medium-gain antenna. A low-gain, omnidirectional antenna was mounted below the high-gain dish. The spacecraft contained two nuclear electric-power generators, which generated 144 W at Jupiter, but decreased to 100 W at Saturn. There were three reference sensors: a star (Canopus) sensor, and two sun sensors. Attitude position could be calculated from the reference direction to the earth and the sun, with the known direction to Canopus as backup. Pioneer 11's star sensor gain and threshold settings were modified, based on experience gained from the settings used on Pioneer 10. Three pairs of rocket thrusters provided spin-axis control (maintained at 4.8 rpm) and change of the spacecraft velocity. The thrusters could be either fired steadily or pulsed, by command.

Communications were maintained via the omnidirectional and medium-gain antennas, which operated together, connected to one receiver, while the high-gain antenna was connected to the other receiver. The receivers could be interchanged by command. Two radio transmitters, coupled to two traveling-wave tube amplifiers, produced 8 W power each in S-band. Communication uplink (earth to spacecraft) operated at 2110 MHz, and downlink (spacecraft to earth) at 2292 MHz. At Jupiter's distance, round-trip communication time took 92 min. Data were received at the Deep Space Network (DSN). The spacecraft was temperature-controlled to between -23 and +38 deg C (-10 to +100 deg F). An additional experiment, a low-sensitivity fluxgate magnetometer, was added to the Pioneer 11 payload.

Instruments studied the interplanetary and planetary magnetic fields; solar wind properties; cosmic rays; transition region of the heliosphere; neutral hydrogen abundance; distribution, size, mass, flux, and velocity of dust particles; Jovian aurorae; Jovian radio waves; the atmospheres of planets and satellites; and the surfaces of Jupiter, Saturn, and some of their satellites. Instruments carried for these experiments were magnetometer, plasma analyzer (for solar wind), charged-particle detector, ionizing detector, non-imaging telescopes with overlapping fields of view to detect sunlight reflected from passing meteoroids, sealed pressurized cells of argon and nitrogen gas for measuring penetration of meteoroids, UV photometer, IR radiometer, and an imaging photopolarimeter, which produced photographs and measured the polarization. Further scientific information was obtained from celestial mechanics and occultation phenomena.

This spacecraft, like Pioneer 10, contains a plaque that has a drawing depicting man, woman, and the location of the sun and earth in the galaxy.

During its closest approach, 03 December 1974 (SCET-UT) , Pioneer 11 passed to within 43,000 km of Jupiter's cloud tops. It passed by Saturn on 01 September 1979, at a distance of 21,000 km from Saturn's cloud tops. The spacecraft has operated on a backup transmitter since launch. Instrument power sharing began in February 1985 due to declining RTG power output. Science operations and daily telemetry ceased on 30 September 1995 when the RTG power level was insufficient to operate any experiments. As of the end of 1995 the spacecraft was located at 44.7 AU from the Sun at a nearly asymptotic latitude of 17.4 degrees above the solar equatorial plane and was heading outward at 2.5 AU/year.

Spacecraft and Subsytems

Launch Date: 1973-04-06
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Centaur
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 259.0 kg
Nominal Power: 165.0 W

Instruments

Magnetic Fields

Charged Particle Instrument (CPI)

Asteroid/Meteoroid Astronomy

Meteoroid Detectors

Jovian Trapped Radiation

Ultraviolet Photometry

Imaging Photopolarimeter (IPP)

Infrared Radiometer

Celestial Mechanics

S-Band Occultation

Geiger Tube Telescope (GTT)

Cosmic-Ray Spectra

Quadrispherical Plasma Analyzer

Jovian Magnetic Field

Zodiacal-Light Two-Color Photopolarimetry

Launch-Orbit Information

Launch Information

Trajectory Details

Type Interplanetary cruise
Central Body: Sun
Epoch start: 1973-04-05 14:11:00 UTC
Epoch stop: 1974-12-03 05:22:00 UTC

Orbital Parameters
Periapsis Apoapsis Period Inclination Eccentricity
1 AU     0

Regions Traversed
Interplanetary Medium
Solar wind


Type Flyby
Central Body:Jupiter
Closest approach time: 1974-12-03 05:22:00 UTC

Orbital Parameters
Periapsis Apoapsis Period Inclination Eccentricity
1.6 RJ     51.8° 0

Regions Traversed
Bow shock
Magnetopause
Magnetosphere
Magnetotail
Plasmapause
Plasmasphere
Rings Trapped particle belts


Type Interplanetary cruise
Central Body: Sun
Epoch start: 1974-12-03 05:22:01 UTC
Epoch stop: 1979-09-01 16:31:00 UTC

Orbital Parameters

Periapsis Apoapsis Period Inclination Eccentricity
4.9 AU     6.6° 1.7372

Regions Traversed
Interplanetary Medium
Solar wind


Type Flyby
Central Body: Saturn
Closest approach time: 1979-09-01 16:31:00 UTC

Orbital Parameters

Periapsis Apoapsis Period Inclination Eccentricity
1.34 RS     0

Regions Traversed
Heliopause
Solar wind


Type Solar system escape
Central Body: Sun
Epoch start: 1979-09-01 16:31:00 UTC

Orbital Parameters

Periapsis Apoapsis Period Inclination Eccentricity
9.4 AU     12.6° 0

Regions Traversed
Interplanetary Medium
Solar wind

Summary