National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Pioneer 11
 By Target   By Name   By Decade 
Pioneer 11
Pioneer 11 Mission to Jupiter Pioneer 11 Mission to Saturn Pioneer 11 Mission to Beyond Our Solar System

Goals: Pioneer 11 was the first mission to explore Saturn and the second spacecraft in humanity's early reconnaissance of the outer solar system. The spacecraft carried instruments to study magnetic fields, the solar wind and the atmospheres, moons and other aspects of Jupiter and Saturn.

Accomplishments: Among Pioneer 11's many discoveries are Saturn's F ring and a new moon. It recorded the planet's overall temperature at -180°C, indicating that it emits 2.5 times as much heat as it receives from the Sun. Photographs revealed a more featureless atmosphere than that of Jupiter, and calculations based on data from Pioneer 11 suggested that Saturn is primarily liquid hydrogen with a core of about 10 Earth masses.

The dormant spacecraft is now headed out of our solar system in the general direction of Sagittarius, toward the center of the galaxy. Both Pioneers 10 and 11 carry a plaque with a message for any intelligent beings that might find them.


Key Dates
5 Apr 1973:  Launch (02:11 UT)
3 Dec 1974:  Jupiter Flyby
1 Sep 1979:  Saturn Flyby
24 Nov 1995:  Final Contact
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Pioneer 11 Facts Both Pioneer 10 and 11 carry a plaque describing the spacecraft, human beings and the location of our solar system.

The plaque was mounted on the struts of the spacecraft.

Pioneer 10 and 11 confirmed crossing the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter was not as hazardous as suspected.
Science & Technology Features
People Spotlight
Charles Hall Charles Hall
"Charlie Hall's Pioneer 10 craft may be billions of miles from Earth, but his spirit will always be with us at NASA." Read More...
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writers: Courtney O'Connor and Bill Dunford
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 5 Jan 2015