Pioneer 10 celebrated its tenth year in space on March 2, but it may not be sending back data to scientists on earth on its eleventh birthday. Although scientists, such as James A. Van Allen, AGU President-elect, await current spacecraft findings ‘with intense excitement,’ Pioneer 10 may fall victim to the budget ax wielded by the Reagan administration. National Aeronautics and Space Administrator James Beggs said that communications to the spacecraft may be cut off beginning in fiscal 1983 [Eos, February 23, p. 169].
Having survived the ravages of its 6.6 billion km trip, Pioneer continues to function well, NASA reports, and is currently attempting to define the extent and behavior of the sun's atmosphere or heliosphere. By April 1983, Pioneer will be farther from the sun than Pluto, and by June it will pass Neptune.