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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

Twinkling worlds in motion: New Horizons' first optical navigation images of Pluto and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/07 02:31 CDT | 10 comments

What's that in the distance? A binary star? Those are two little round worlds dancing in circles, whirling around a point in space located between the two of them. It's Pluto and Charon, clearly separated by New Horizons' camera.

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Rendezvous with a crazy world

Posted by Daniel Fischer on 2014/08/06 01:27 CDT | 1 comment

Beaming scientists all around, spectacular images on large TV screens, and the best - or at least most exciting - yet to come: such was the extraordinary scene at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, today as the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft reached its cometary destination.

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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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