Thursday, October 04, 2007

More on the Pioneer Anomaly

Here's the abstract from a new preprint: Physics Engineering in the Study of the Pioneer Anomaly
The Pioneer 10/11 spacecraft yielded the most precise navigation in deep space to date. However, their radio-metric tracking data received from the distances between 20--70 astronomical units from the Sun has consistently indicated the presence of a small, anomalous, Doppler frequency drift. The drift is a blue frequency shift that can be interpreted as a sunward acceleration of a_P = (8.74 +/- 1.33) x 10^{-10} m/s^2 for each particular spacecraft. This signal has become known as the Pioneer anomaly; the nature of this anomaly remains unexplained.
Recently new Pioneer 10 and 11 radio-metric Doppler and flight telemetry data became available. The newly available Doppler data set is significantly enlarged when compared to the data used in previous investigations and is expected to be the primary source for the investigation of the anomaly. In addition, the flight telemetry files, original project documentation, and newly developed software tools are now used to reconstruct the engineering history of both spacecraft. With the help of this information, a thermal model of the Pioneer vehicles is being developed to study possible contribution of thermal recoil force acting on the two spacecraft. The ultimate goal of these physics engineering efforts is to evaluate the effect of on-board systems on the spacecrafts' trajectories.

Here's a previous post on the Pioneer Anomaly.

No comments: