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NASA Space Science

New Theory About the Source of Pioneer Space Probe Deceleration 156

First time accepted submitter deathcow writes "After forty years, a fresh perspective on old Pioneer data leads to new conclusions as to why the Pioneer probes are decelerating. Many theories to the slowing probes have persisted over the years — was it gravity? some type of unforeseen radiation? dark matter? Thanks to the data backup preservation efforts of a NASA Ames Research engineer, mountains of old telemetry data were still available for studying this curious anomaly."
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New Theory About the Source of Pioneer Space Probe Deceleration

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  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:20AM (#42213005)

    The most impressive thing is that we can actually measure this minute effect to such an accuracy that we know there is something unexpected going on. And then subsequently accurately explain this inaccuracy.

  • Re:Le sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:31AM (#42213051)

    How was this not interesting? Less energy than is put out by your headlights on your car was actually slowing down a multi-tonne spacecraft zipping through space at over 36,000 miles per second! While its not groundbreaking, it definitely is interesting science, and its frigging SPACE man!

    Higgs Boson was discovered and proved to be real. They might even have found a previously undetected particle as well!

    Dark matter was proven to exist and the mystery of why the universe is expanding faster and faster was solved!

    A private company went into space!

    A man jumped from the edge of space and landed safely while anyone on the planet who cared to watch did so!

    What the heck do you want, Science to prove God Exists and invite him over for freaking tea?!?

    How can you be so jaded?

  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Friday December 07, 2012 @03:04AM (#42213135)

    The article is about the importance of retaining your original scientific data, rather than saying "we've analyzed it and now we're done with it forever."

  • Nah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @04:21AM (#42213383) Journal

    Your attention span just... never mind, he wandered off.

    This is science kid, leave it for people who can read a full paragraph without needing a red bull. For once the article tells the complete story instead of being some butchered blog summary of a blog summary of a tweet of a snippet and the kiddies are up in arms because they actually have to use the reading skills they never mastered.

  • Re:Nah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @04:49AM (#42213459) Homepage

    This is science kid...

    Which is exactly why it shouldn't be written like a suspense novel.

    Quick summary for all the people who know the background, full story underneath for those who don't (or just like to re-read it...)

  • Re:Nah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPalmgren ( 1009823 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:51AM (#42214883)

    I dunno, there's actually a benefit to this kind of approach. A public facing article, intended for the public, not just the 1% of us who love and understand science. I remember reading things like this as a kid and re-living the history of an event, feeling the experience of the scientist and their jubilation as they worked through a problem and found their answers. Science written in the form of a suspense novel brings people into the fray that would have otherwise ignored it. I'm all for it.

  • Re:Nah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:00AM (#42214973)

    It's an article in IEEE Spectrum. Spectrum is a magazine that covers things that might be interesting to electrical engineers. Often those things are background stories on papers published in IEEE journals.

    If you want the science, read the paper (or the abstract if you've got attention span problems). The Spectrum article was the right thing for a Slashdot summary to link to. Especially since it's a dupe of a previous Slashdot story that DID just cover the nitty gritty.

  • by skids ( 119237 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:17AM (#42215127) Homepage

    Actually it turns out we have a very long memory. We remembered gigabytes of data for several decades, as well as enough data about a machine we built decades ago to model it in excruciating detail, then used it to refine the calculations for a possible explanation for a miniscule discrepency in the speed of a relatively tiny object billions of miles away. I'd say that's pretty incredible.

    Meanwhile most people can't figure out how to remember a secure password. How's that for contrast?

  • by chrismcb ( 983081 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @05:18PM (#42219969) Homepage
    The article was about HOW they discovered and verified the theory. VERY interesting read.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak