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Pioneer 2
Pioneer 2 Mission to Earth's Moon

Goals: Pioneer 2 was intended to be a lunar orbiter. It carried an improved TV scanner for sending back images and a cosmic ray telescope designed to study the Cherenkov Effect (electromagnetic radiation).

Accomplishments:Despite improvements to its booster rockets, a malfunction left Pioneer 2 stranded in Earth orbit. Scientists managed to gather data about energy flux and micrometeroids before the spacecraft fell back to Earth after only 45 minutes in orbit.

Key Dates
8 Nov 1958:  Launch
Status: Unsuccessful
Fast Facts
Pioneer 2 Facts The Cherenkov Effect is caused by high-energy beta particles moving at velocities faster than the speed of light in water.

The effect causes the blue glow in nuclear reactors (right).

This process is similar to the sonic boom heard when an airplane exceeds the speed of sound.

Pioneer 2 re-entered Earth's atmosphere over Northwest Africa.

This was the last of the U.S. Air Force Project Able Probes.

This was America's third attempt to reach the Moon.
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Last Updated: 30 Nov 2010