Science: Hurtling Through the Void

Pioneer 10 becomes the first object to leave the solar system

Eleven years ago a small, unmanned spacecraft looking like the product of a child's Erector Set took off from Florida on a historic mission. Equipped with primitive electronic eyes and other instruments, Pioneer 10 flew past the giant planet Jupiter, providing the first startling close-up view of that distant world. Now the surprisingly durable robot, whose working parts were designed by its builder, TRW, to last only two or three years, has scored another remarkable achievement. Propelled by a gravitational boost from Jupiter, it has become the first man-made object to...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!