Pioneer 10 and 11 anomylous acceleration

In summary, the PA shows an anomalous acceleration towards the Sun during the Pioneers' missions, although the cause is still unknown. The effect is most likely due to some sort of residual or time acceleration, although it is not consistent with known gravitational forces.
  • #1
I heard an interview with a physicist on the radio who was talking about how the pioneer 9 and 10 felt an anomylous acceleration towards the sun during their missions. The force was 1/10 millionth of a G and according to the physicist who helped try to solve this mystery at the JPL labs, the problem is still unsolved. I am curious if any of you have insights about this mystery and any theorized solutions.
 
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  • #2
If you haven't seen it already, you'll probably be interested in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_anomaly" [Broken].
 
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  • #3
The subject has also been discussed many times on these Forums, such as here:
anomalous acceleration of Pioneer 10 and 11,
The Pioneer Anomaly,
Does the PA show that DM/DE is dynamically important in the outer solar system?.

A recent 'Sky & Telescope' article: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/17846774.html [Broken], note the question mark! It still is very much an open question.
According to Slava Turyshev (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), some of the retarding force is due to uneven emission of heat radiation from the spacecraft .
(Emphasis mine)

You may be interested in a concise summary of the effect and some possible explanations from the "Does the PA show that DM/DE is dynamically important in the outer solar system?" thread here.

Garth
 
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  • #4
Thanks Mapes, normally I try as hard as possible not to use Wikipedia, but they have a nice list of possibilities treating the anomaly.

Thank you Garth, for the many nice references listed, I will digest them in due time. So Garth you believe it was due to uneven heat emission from the crafts, right?
 
  • #5
Chaos' lil bro Order said:
Thank you Garth, for the many nice references listed, I will digest them in due time. So Garth you believe it was due to uneven heat emission from the crafts, right?
Not exactly!

What I have done in that last link (https://www.physicsforums.com/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=1144980 [Broken]) is to take Turyshev et al.'s paper
The Study of the Pioneer Anomaly: New Data and Objectives for New Investigation and add up all the possible 'normal physics' explanations for the effect and see what is left unexplained that might be caused by new physics.

Uneven heat emission as a component of the normal physics explanation would be only part of the total anomaly.

Note that what is actually measured is an unexpected blue shift in the signals coming from the spacecraft on top of the expected Doppler shift, this time acceleration is then most commonly interpreted as a anomalous sunwards acceleration.

Several authors have commented that this unexplained residual (time acceleration or clock drift) is consistent with being equal to Hubble's constant and therefore may be cosmological in nature. However, it is not simply Hubble expansion showing up locally as it is in the wrong direction - an inwards acceleration not an outwards Hubble flow.

The mystery continues...

Garth
 
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  • #6
Yes, you give a very nice treatment to the mystery Garth.

Maybe there were little green men hitching a ride to the outher rim, unbeknownst to NASA :)
 
  • #7
Pioneer distance anomaly

Hi, I was reading about the pioneer anomaly on Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_anomaly" [Broken]

First of all, apologies. I know that this question isn't entirely appropriate to this thread but I haven't yet worked out how to post a new topic.

It says that the spacecraft has an ‘unaccounted for’ acceleration of about 9 * E-10 m/s^2

Then it says that over one year this equates to about 5000km

I then used s=1/2 a t^2 to check this but I am getting a result that is a factor of about 10 out.

t^2 = (365 * 24 * 60 * 60)^2
t^2 = 9.94E14 seconds

s=½ * a * t^2
s= ½ * 9 * 9.94 * E4
= approx 450km.

Am I missing something?
 
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  • #8
Zman said:
Am I missing something?
You are referring to Wikipedia! I think you are correct.

Welcome to these Forums Zman, you will find we treat Wikipedia articles with caution around here. :smile:

Of course, the PA is not measuring an acceleration nor distance from the Sun, I will copy from a link I included erroneously above, but because the edit facility timed out I was unable to repair it!

1. The PA is measured as a residual blue Doppler shift on signals returned back to Earth. The value of the frequency change or time acceleration is equal to:

ad = (2.92 ± 0.44) × 10−18 s-1.

2. This can be interpreted as an acceleration (either towards the Sun or the Earth) equal to
aP = (8.74 ± 1.33) × 10−10 m/s2.

3. The effect has been constant and equal for both spacecraft from 10AU - 90AU. (Pioneer 10 - Feb 2003) (Other effects swamped it when they were closer than than 10AU from the Sun.)

4. It does not show up in the orbital dynamics of the outer planets. This alone indicates to me that it cannot be modeled by modification in the gravitational field of the Sun. See Iorio's eprint Can the Pioneer anomaly be of gravitational origin? - answer: negative.

(However, as a caveat, remember the residuals in Uranus’ orbit that led to the discovery of Neptune? Once Neptune was discovered there was still a residual that led to a search for Planet X. Pluto was found and the search discontinued. However Pluto was not Planet X, it is 2 OOM too small, so a residual in Uranus’ orbital elements still appears to exist!)

5. That 'normal physics' from On-Board Systematics, (source The Study of the Pioneer Anomaly: New Data and Objectives for New Investigation Turyshev et al.), can so far explain a maximum of:

i Radio Beam Reaction Forc arb = (1.10 ± 0.10) × 10−10 m/s2. .
ii Anisotropic Heat Reflection aah = (−0.55 ± 0.55) × 10−10 m/s2. .
iii Differential Change of the RTG’s Radiant Emissivity are = 0.85 × 10−10 m/s2. .
iv Constant Electrical Heat Radiation as the Source: not viable.
v Helium Expulsion from the RTGs ahe = (0.15 ± 0.16) × 10−10 m/s2. .
vi Propulsive Mass Expulsion apme = ±0.56 × 10−10 m/s2.

This makes a maximum total of an = (2.1 ± 0.8) × 10−10 m/s2 that can be caused by normal physics leaving at least a minimum anomalous acceleration of ax = (6.6 ± 2.1) × 10−10 m/s2 to be explained.

This may be expressed as a minimum Doppler shift or clock drift of

ad residual = (2.20 ± 0.70) × 10−18 s-1.

6. Furthermore note that Hubble's constant in similar units (1/(Hubble Time) expressed in seconds) is equal to:

H = (2.4 ± 0.2) × 10−18 s-1 (with h=0.73) and where I have given H ±10% error bars, which is consistent with that unexplained residual ad residual in the PA.

The PA may therefore be cosmological and not local in nature and viable gravitational theories that predict such a clock drift should be given due consideration.

Garth
 
  • #9
Thanks Garth

But I am still confused.

I suppose my question should really have been;

How do I work out how much closer the Pioneer spacecraft is to the sun as a result of the PA after one year?

You quoted the acceleration as;
aP = (8.74 ± 1.33) × 10−10 m/s2

Is it just a question of applying the formula;

Dist = 0.5 x aP x t^2

where Dist is the distance closer to the sun as a result of the PA
and t is the number of seconds in one year.

I don't need the physical result, I would just like to know if I have the correct principle.
 
  • #10
You have the correct principle if the PA is caused by an actual deceleration.

That is the spacecraft would be closer than predicted under normal theory by this amount.

If the PA is caused by a time split between ephemeris and atomic time (a non-orthodox, 'new physics' explanation) then the acceleration is as expected and the spacecraft is situated where predicted.

Garth
 
  • #11


Zman said:
Hi, I was reading about the pioneer anomaly on Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_anomaly" [Broken]

First of all, apologies. I know that this question isn't entirely appropriate to this thread but I haven't yet worked out how to post a new topic.

It says that the spacecraft has an ‘unaccounted for’ acceleration of about 9 * E-10 m/s^2

Then it says that over one year this equates to about 5000km

I then used s=1/2 a t^2 to check this but I am getting a result that is a factor of about 10 out.

t^2 = (365 * 24 * 60 * 60)^2
t^2 = 9.94E14 seconds

s=½ * a * t^2
s= ½ * 9 * 9.94 * E4
= approx 450km.

Am I missing something?


You are missing nothing, ZMAN; you got it right, apparently Wikipedia got it wrong.
Assuming the anamolous doppler data corresponds to a real deceleration, your 450 km. per year is correct, not the Wikipedia value.

Good catch.
 
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  • #12


Creator said:
You are missing nothing, ZMAN; you got it right, apparently Wikipedia got it wrong.
Assuming the anamolous doppler data corresponds to a real deceleration, your 450 km. per year is correct, not the Wikipedia value.

Good catch.
I would be alarmed if uneven heat loss from a spacecraft could push it 5000 km per year from its expected location! That's > 0.5km/h!!
 
  • #13


DaveC426913 said:
I would be alarmed if uneven heat loss from a spacecraft could push it 5000 km per year from its expected location! That's > 0.5km/h!!

Good point...and that would be only the radial component toward the sun.

However, I don't think you can figure the velocity that way since you are assuming constant velocity ...which it isn't since it is under acceleration... No? If I'm not mistaken its the anamolous acceleration that is constant.

You could however, say the acceleration would have to have been greater by a factor of 10...
 
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  • #14


Creator said:
Good point...and that would be only the radial component toward the sun.

However, I don't think you can figure the velocity that way since you are assuming constant velocity ...which it isn't since it is under acceleration... No? If I'm not mistaken its the anamolous acceleration that is constant.
...
Good point. So the anomalous acceleration is 500km/year per year?
 
  • #15


DaveC426913 said:
Good point. So the anomalous acceleration is 500km/year per year?
No. Along with the factor of 10 error, the wiki article also did some rough rounding. You are correcting for the factor of 10 error, but keeping the rough rounding and adding a factor of 2 error. Taking the wiki value of (8.74±1.33)×10−10 m/s2 as a given, the anomalous acceleration is (870±130) km/yr2. (1 yr2= 9.96×1014 s2).
 
  • #16


D H said:
No. Along with the factor of 10 error, the wiki article also did some rough rounding. You are correcting for the factor of 10 error, but keeping the rough rounding and adding a factor of 2 error. Taking the wiki value of (8.74±1.33)×10−10 m/s2 as a given, the anomalous acceleration is (870±130) km/yr2. (1 yr2= 9.96×1014 s2).
Right. OK. I was more interested in the unit i.e. that is was /year/year.

So, if the craft were transported out to deep space and stopped, it would begin moving off at a rate of ~870km/yr2.

Oh I see. That's not really that fast. I made a big flub when I calced it as a constant velocity.

But it's still pretty substantial for "uneven heat loss" isn't it?
 
  • #17


DaveC426913 said:
Right. OK. I was more interested in the unit i.e. that is was /year/year.

So, if the craft were transported out to deep space and stopped, it would begin moving off at a rate of ~870km/yr2.

Oh I see. That's not really that fast. I made a big flub when I calced it as a constant velocity.

But it's still pretty substantial for "uneven heat loss" isn't it?

Yes it is! :rolleyes:

Did you not read my earlier post on this thread, here?

From a list of possible sources of acceleration
iii Differential Change of the RTG’s Radiant Emissivity are = 0.85 × 10−10 m/s2.
It is an OOM too small.

Constant heat loss would make a negligible contribution.

These estimations were published by Turyshev et al. The Study of the Pioneer Anomaly: New Data and Objectives for New Investigation.

Garth
 

1. What is the Pioneer 10 and 11 anomalous acceleration phenomenon?

The Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecrafts were launched in the early 1970s to explore the outer regions of our solar system. However, once they reached a certain distance from Earth, scientists noticed that the spacecrafts were experiencing a small but consistent acceleration towards the Sun that could not be explained by known forces. This phenomenon is known as the Pioneer 10 and 11 anomalous acceleration.

2. What are the possible explanations for the Pioneer 10 and 11 anomalous acceleration?

Scientists have proposed several theories to explain the Pioneer 10 and 11 anomalous acceleration, including thermal radiation from the spacecrafts themselves, gravitational pull from the Kuiper Belt, or even the effects of dark matter. However, none of these explanations have been able to fully account for the observed acceleration.

3. How do scientists measure the Pioneer 10 and 11 anomalous acceleration?

Scientists have been able to measure the Pioneer 10 and 11 anomalous acceleration by using the Doppler shift of radio signals sent from Earth to the spacecrafts. This shift in frequency can be used to calculate the velocity of the spacecrafts, and any unexpected changes in velocity can indicate the presence of an unknown force.

4. Has the Pioneer 10 and 11 anomalous acceleration been observed in other spacecrafts?

Yes, similar anomalous accelerations have been observed in other spacecrafts, such as Galileo and Ulysses. However, the magnitude of the acceleration in these cases was much smaller than that of Pioneer 10 and 11, making it more difficult to detect and study.

5. What are the implications of the Pioneer 10 and 11 anomalous acceleration for our understanding of physics?

The Pioneer 10 and 11 anomalous acceleration remains a mystery and challenges our current understanding of physics. If it is not caused by any known forces, it could potentially lead to the discovery of new physical laws or the need to revise existing theories. It also highlights the importance of continued exploration and research in order to further our understanding of the universe.

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