Friday, July 22, 2011

Pioneer Anomaly Has A "Dull" Explantion

Whether we like it or not, the Pioneer anomaly may finally have an explanation that should put to rest all the other exotic, wild theories.

The quartet’s painstaking analysis of telemetry data suggests that the anomalous acceleration of both spacecraft is decreasing with time. While the exact nature of this decrease is not certain, there is a good chance that it is exponential. This would be consistent with the decay of radioactive material with a half-life of about 27 years. Both spacecraft have radioactive power sources that are still running – so mystery solved.

Well, not quite. Both spacecraft are powered by plutonium-238, which has a half-life of about 88 years. However, the team believes that the more rapid drop in acceleration could be the result of degradation and changes to the thermal properties of the spacecraft over time. When these factors are considered, claim the researchers, a half-life of 27 years seems reasonable.
 This sounds like a tedious, painstaking task. So bravo to them for the monumental effort.


1 comment:

silentbob14 said...

Oh man I love physics anomalies ;]Nice post