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Space Missions

Our Emissaries Across the Solar System

Earth has launched thousands of spacecraft, but precious few have made it beyond Earth orbit. Currently, 13 spacecraft representing 11 missions are actively gathering science data from planetary destinations. These are MESSENGER at Mercury; Venus Express at Venus; Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, GRAIL, and ARTEMIS at the Moon; Odyssey, Mars Express, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and Opportunity at Mars; Dawn at Vesta; and Cassini at Saturn.

Meanwhile, Curiosity is on its way to Mars, Rosetta to a comet, New Horizons to Pluto, and Akatsuki attempting to retry a Venus arrival, while Chang'E 2 and both Voyagers have turned from planetary to heliophysics missions, and IKAROS' condition is unknown. All of these missions follow in the footsteps of dozens of predecessors, the few human-built artifacts ever to have departed Earth.

Recent Mission Status Updates

Curiosity update, sols 540-8: New rules and longer drives

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/20 05:53 CST | 3 comments

Curiosity has tested a new driving mode -- backwards -- and achieved their longest single-day drive in three months. And they've committed to driving to the spot formerly known as "KMS-9," marking that commitment by giving it a name, "Kimberley." My route maps show you why Curiosity's views will be shifting, and Ken Herkenhoff's blog posts explain the daily activities.

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Curiosity Update, sols 534-540: Over Dingo Gap, onto softer sand

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/13 12:55 CST | 5 comments

After more than two months of very slow driving due to concern about the wheels and time spent choosing whether to enter "Dingo Gap" or not, Curiosity has safely crossed the dune and resumed longer drives, achieving 75 meters and crossing the 5-kilometer mark on sol 540.

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Space Mission Timelines

Missions to Venus and Mercury

A list of key dates and basic facts on all the missions that have explored Venus.

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Missions to Mars

The missions, both successful and failed, that have flown by, orbited, or landed on the Red Planet and its moons

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Missions beyond Mars

The spacecraft that have traveled to asteroids, outer planets, comets, and beyond

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Missions to the Moon

A timeline of missions to the Moon

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Cassini’s Tour of the Saturn System

13 years, 250 orbits, and 127 gravity-assist flybys – explore the Saturn system with NASA's Cassini mission.

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Pictures of Spacecraft

Space mission artwork, snapshots of construction, launches, and photos of spacecraft in space

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Missions to study the Sun

Spacecraft that study our dynamic Sun and help us understand how it affects our planet.

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