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
Join Emily Lakdawalla and Joel Hurowitz of the MSL Curiosity sample acquisition team to talk about the upcoming "first drill" by the martian rover.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured a new view of Curiosity on Mars on January 2 (sol 145). Curiosity was in the same location as the one from which it shot the sol 137 panorama I posted earlier. You can see the rover's tracks leading all the way back to the landing site!