Positive rate From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 2143 posts, RR: 1 Reply 1, posted (10 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 2331 times:
NASA were expecting to lose contact with Pioneer 10 soon anyway i think. It's nuclear power supply was virtually depleted and it's signal was getting weaker and weaker every time they communicated with the spacecraft. They lost contact with Pioneer 11 some time back so now it's just Voyager 1 and 2 with whom JPL communicates with on a daily basis. Although Pioneer 10/11 were launched first, Voyager 2 is actually the most distant man made object ever made. They are estimated to last for another 10 years or so before failing.
GDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 12968 posts, RR: 79 Reply 5, posted (10 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 2138 times:
Never were two spacecraft so aptly named, these simple craft paved the way for Voyager, they discovered that radiation near Jupiter was much worse than thought, without that data, the much more sophisticated Voyagers would have been knocked out, as it happened, they could be redesigned.
Pioneer 11, after encountering Jupiter in 1974, did a gravity assist to fly across the Solar system to meet Saturn years later, before the Voyagers, which Pioneer had not been designed for.
They were only supposed to last a few years anyway.