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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

Mars Orbiter Mission to test-fire main engine before orbit insertion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/04 12:59 CDT | 1 comment

According to a report in the Times of India, ISRO is deciding today whether to test-fire Mars Orbiter Mission's main engine to make sure it will work for their all-important orbit insertion maneuver on September 24. Both ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA's MAVEN are in good health and on track for their arrivals in three weeks.

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Cassini's awesomeness fully funded through mission's dramatic end in 2017

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/03 07:54 CDT | 9 comments

Last year, rumors swirled that NASA may be so pinched for dollars that the agency might end the Cassini mission early. Today, Cassini received the welcome news that it has formally been funded through the planned end of its extended-extended mission in 2017. A huge congratulations to the Cassini mission!

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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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Fly to an Asteroid!

Travel to Bennu on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft!

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