Launched aboard an Atlas Centaur rocket from Cape Kennedy on March 2, 1972, Pioneer 10 was Earth's first space probe with a mission to explore an outer planet. There were many "firsts" associated with the flight of Pioneer 10. It was the first space probe to pass through the Asteroid Belt; the first spacecraft to fly past Jupiter; and the first man-made object to pass the orbit of Pluto and leave the solar system. It was also the farthest man-made object from Earth until February 1998, when that record was surpassed by the Voyager I probe.
Pioneer 10 Instruments
The Pioneer 10 spacecraft traveled for more than 30 years before receiving its last detectable signal on Jan. 22, 2003. At last contact, Pioneer 10 was 7.6 billion miles from Earth, or 82 times the distance between the Sun and the Earth. At that distance, it takes more than 11 hours and 20 minutes for the radio signal, traveling at the speed of light, to reach the Earth.