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MYSTERIOUS ACCELERATION ON THE EDGE OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM
Telemetry data from Pioneer-10 , Pioneer-11 and Galileo , as well as ground network data for deep space monitoring (DSN), owned by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, USA), allowed a team of American specialists (JDAnderson, Ph.F.Laing, ELLau et al.) to establish the presence of anomalous acceleration in the motion of these spacecraft. In addition to the usual acceleration caused by the attraction of the Sun and falling inversely proportional to the square of the distance from it, a weak incremental acceleration, constant in magnitude and directed towards the Sun, is revealed in the motion of the vehicles.
"Pioneer 10" was launched in March 1972 , soon followed by "Pioneer 11" . After the passage of Jupiter and Saturn, the vehicles moved in a hyperbolic orbit near the plane of the ecliptic. Although the mission of “Pioneer 10” officially ended in 1997 , it continues to transmit messages to Earth. Radio messages from “Pioneer-11” ceased to arrive in 1990
Pioneer type spacecraft are ideal for studying the dynamics of astronomical objects. First, they are equipped with a system for stabilizing their own rotation; secondly, they were considerably removed (in March 1997 “Pioneer-10” was at a distance of 67 AU from the Sun), and therefore do not require frequent maneuvering in order to maintain the correct orientation to the Earth. This makes it possible to carry out precision Doppler measurements and, in particular, to determine the acceleration of the apparatus with an accuracy of 10–10 cm / s2 (according to data averaged over five days).
Already in 1980 , when “Pioneer-10” was at a distance of 20 AU. from the Sun, a systematic discrepancy was noted between the values of the measured acceleration of the apparatus and calculated from the attraction to the Sun. The additional acceleration is directed strictly at the Sun and is estimated at 8 • 10–8 cm / s2 (for a specified distance, the gravitational attraction to the Sun is about 3.8 • 10–4 cm / s2 ). Subsequent measurements confirmed this result with increasing accuracy. The greatest surprise was the constancy of the additional acceleration: as the “Pioneer-10” moves away from 40 to 60 AU. the magnitude of the acceleration did not change with an accuracy of 2 • 10–8 cm / s2 . As shown by detailed calculations, the anomalous incremental acceleration cannot be caused either by the gravitational influence of the Kuiper belt or by galactic attraction, as well as by a number of other non-gravitational factors: gas leakage from the vehicle, pressure of sunlight or wind, etc. They all contribute to the acceleration is at least two to three orders of magnitude smaller.
Analysis of the movement of “Galileo” gives a close value of the additional anomalous acceleration ( ~ 10–7cm / s2 ), but for this device the contribution to the acceleration due to the pressure of sunlight is about the same size, and besides, there is great uncertainty associated with frequent maneuvers Galileo .
Date of publication: 09/23/2004
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