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A Mission to Test the Pioneer Anomaly

Abstract

Analysis of the radio tracking data from the Pioneer 10/11 spacecraft has consistently indicated the presence of an anomalous small Doppler frequency drift. The drift can be interpreted as being due to a constant acceleration of a_P= (8.74 +/- 1.33) x 10^{-8} cm/s^2 directed towards the Sun. Although it is suspected that there is a systematic origin to the effect, none has been found. The nature of this anomaly has become of growing interest in the fields of relativistic cosmology, astro- and gravitational physics as well as in the areas of spacecraft design and high-precision navigation. We present a concept for a designated deep-space mission to test the discovered anomaly. A number of critical requirements and design considerations for such a mission are outlined and addressed.Comment: Final changes for publication. Honorable Mention, 2002 Gravity Research Foundation Essay

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    Last time updated on 01/04/2019