The first spacecraft to come close to a star will be Pioneer 10

The first spacecraft to come close to a star will be Pioneer 10

In the 1970s, NASA sent four unmanned space probes into the solar system: Pioneer 10 and 11, and Voyager 1 and 2. After completing their missions, they continued to drift away so that all four are exiting the solar system.

But which will be the first to reach the vicinity of another star?

Pioneer 10

Coryn Bailer Jones of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and Davide Farnocchia of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have estimated that NASA’s Pioneer 10 probe will be the first of four probes launched into the solar system in the 1970s to arrive earlier. in the vicinity of another star.

Specifically, it will pass through the star system called HIP 117795 . It is found in the constellation Cassiopeia. Their calculations show that the spacecraft will pass within 0.231 parsecs of the star in about 90,000 years.

Using data collected from the Gaia space telescope , which was launched by the European Space Agency in 2013 and has been stationed just outside Earth’s orbit around the Sun, the researchers were able to determine when the paths of the four spacecraft they could approach very distant star systems .

The researchers found that the four spacecraft will approach approximately 60 stars over the course of the next million years, and will be within two parsecs of approximately 10 of them. But they will travel for a long time before they collide or are captured by a star system, on the order of 10 to the 20 years.


The Pioneer 10 spacecraft is also famous for the fact that it contains a plaque inscribed with a symbolic message that informs the extraterrestrial civilization that the probe could intercept about the human being and his place of origin, the Earth, a kind of "message in a bottle "interstellar. This plate was made of gold anodized aluminum, because this element has certain properties that cause it to degrade minimally.