Great article. Loved reading about the anomoly being solved.
My connection to Pioneer 10 was my job as computer operator at the University of Iowa Physics Research Center (PRC, now known as Van Allen Hall) in late '73.
Pioneer 10 was just going past Jupiter and they were in "high data rate" and my job consisted of mounting a tape, starting the job, and then finding something to do for the next 8 hours of my 3rd shift while the program generated 35mm film plots of the radiation and magnetometer readings.
The title photo on my web site http://www.rostenbach.com shows me (and me) in front of the Univac 418 computers that did the processing. The left hand computer, the UNIVAC 418 model II (18 bit unary math processor with 16 K [of 18 bit words] of core memory at ½ MHz) did the bulk of the processing and just to the left of it, in the far back corner is the Xerox microfilm plotter.
Thanks for posting this. Very interesting and very learning to read. I think these kind of articles are the ones for young people to go after a technical study rather than the alpha side. And oh do we need them very very hard.... (here in Europe)
That is one of the more fascinating aspects of all space travel to me right now. Our computational tech is changing so much faster than our ability to travel quickly that there is this massive gap created any time we travel far. They have to be proud of their work though, those things have functioned amazingly.
The designers of these craft must be so proud of how well they have done their job, and the amount of information gained from their missions quite apart from the actual data sent back. I've often wondered if they think, "What if these spacecraft had today's technology...?" It takes so long to get there that technology will have advanced considerably by the time they reach their destinations...