Launch: December 1, 2013 Orbit insertion: December 6, 2013 Rover landing: December 14, 2013
Chang'e 3 is part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, consisting of a robotic lander and China's first lunar rover. The Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover successfully landed and took images of the lunar surface, but its mobility system failed, leaving the rover unable to move but still alive.
Launch: October 1, 2010 Orbit insertion: October 6, 2010 Departed lunar orbit: June 8, 2011 Arrived at Sun-Earth L2: August 25, 2011
Chang'e 2 was a backup to Chang'e 1. After completing its mission objectives in lunar orbit, Chang'e 2 departed for the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrangian point to test the Chinese tracking and control network. It reached L2 on August 25, 2011 after a 77-day cruise, becoming the first object to ever reach the L2 point directly from lunar orbit and traveling further than any Chinese spacecraft. Chang'e 2 then left L2 to perform a flyby of the asteroid 4179 Toutatis, the first Chinese asteroid encounter. The flyby occurred on December 12, 2012, passing only 3.2 km from the asteroid. The probe is now traveling through deep space to further verify China's deep-space tracking and control capabilities.
Launch: February 17, 2007 Orbit insertion: July 2011. Ongoing.
The Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun (ARTEMIS) mission will pursue key questions in both heliophysics and planetary science through observations from a lunar orbit. It uses two of the five in-orbit spacecraft from another NASA Heliophysics constellation of satellites (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS)) that were launched in 2007 and successfully completed their mission in 2010. The ARTEMIS mission allowed NASA to repurpose two in-orbit spacecraft to extend their useful science mission, saving tens of millions of taxpayer dollars instead of building and launching new spacecraft.
Chandrayaan-2 is India's second lunar mission, consisting of an orbiter and rover, which will perform in-situ analysis of rock and soil samples. The rover portion of the mission was originally slated to be the Russian Luna-Glob 2, but Roscosmos withdrew in the wake of the Phobos-Grunt failure due to technical aspects shared with Luna-Glob, and ISRO continued development on their own rover separately.
GRAIL's twin spacecraft flew in tandem orbits around the Moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail. Upon completion of their mission, the spacecraft were intentionally crashed near the moon's north pole.
LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite)
Lunar impactors (NASA)
Launch: June 18, 2009 Lunar impact: October 9, 2009
LCROSS launched aboard the same rocket as Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. After launch, the LCROSS shepherding spacecraft separated from the upper stage of its launch vehicle, which was directed toward an impact into a permanently shadowed crater, Cabeus, near the lunar south pole. After watching the impact, the shepherding spacecraft also crashed into the lunar pole, an event that was watched by other orbiters and ground-based observatories.
Launch: October 22, 2008 Lunar orbit insertion: November 8, 2008 Moon Impact Probe released: November 14, 2008 Contact lost: August 29, 2009
Chandrayaan-1 was India's first satellite to leave Earth orbit. The mission was intended to expand the capabilities of India's space agency, ISRO, as well as to accomplish science goals such as mapping radioactive isotopes across the Moon. The mission's budget included the establishment of the first Indian deep space radio communications antenna.
Launched: October 24, 2007 Lunar orbit: November 5, 2007
Chang'e 1 is China's first mission beyond Earth orbit. It is intended to expand the capabilities of China's space program, as well as to develop a topographic map of the Moon; map the composition of the Moon; measure the depth of the lunar soil; and observe the space environment between the Moon and Earth.
Launched: September 14, 2007 Lunar orbit: October 3, 2007 Crashed into Moon: June 10, 2009
Kaguya, also known as SELENE (SELenological and ENgineering Explorer), consisted of three spacecraft (a main orbiter and two much smaller satellites, Okina and Ouna), which created the most detailed map of the Moon's gravity field yet acquired. It carried an HDTV camera for obtaining HD movies of Moon and Earth.
Launched: September 27, 2003 Lunar orbit: November 15, 2004 Crashed into Moon: September 3, 2006
SMART-1 was powered only by an ion (solar-electric) engine and is the first of the European Space Agency's Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology, a program to develop a new breed of spacecraft that will demonstrate and test innovative technologies for future deep space missions.
Launched: January 7, 1998 Lunar orbit: January 11, 1998 Crashed into Moon: July 31, 1999
Lunar Prospector was designed to go into a low polar orbit around the Moon and search for water ice and other minerals in the dark areas of craters that get very little, if any sunlight. During its 19 month mission, Lunar Prospector completed a map of the Moon's surface composition. On July 31, 1999, mission controllers crashed the spacecraft into a crater near the south pole. Observers from Earth watched for any signs of water vapor that might have been released during the impact, but none was seen.
Clementine was launched by the United States Department of Defense to demonstrate new technologies. The spacecraft flew by Earth twice during the first month of its mission before going into orbit around the Moon. Once in lunar orbit, Clementine began its primary 70-day mapping mission. Then, the spacecraft entered a circumlunar orbit and was to have flown on to an encounter with the asteroid Geographos in July, 1994. However, a malfunctioning thruster depleted all of its maneuvering fuel and the spacecraft was stuck in Earth orbit. It lost power in June 1994, after studying the Van Allen radiation belts.
Launched: January 24, 1990 Lunar orbit: March 19, 1990 Crashed into Moon: April 10, 1990
Hiten was launched into a highly elliptical Earth orbit that took it past the Moon 10 times. It released Hagoromo, a small spacecraft that was to go into lunar orbit, but its transmitter failed before it reached the Moon. The Japanese used Hiten to test various technologies for future lunar missions. The spacecraft was intentionally crashed into the moon on April 10, 1993.
Designed as a sample return mission, Luna 23 was damaged during its moon landing on November 6, 1974 and was unable to collect samples. The spacecraft transmitted data for 3 days before falling silent.
Launched: January. 8, 1973 Lunar landing: January 15, 1973
The rover first took a panoramic shot of the landing site, before it rolled off of its protective shell and onto the lunar surface. The rover was powered by solar panels and kept warm at night by a radioactive heat source. The mission lasted 4 months, during which it took over 80,000 TV pictures and covered 37 kilometers (22 miles) of lunar terrain.
Launched: December 7, 1972 Lunar landing: December 11, 1972 Return to Earth: December 19, 1972
While astronaut Ronald Evans orbited overhead, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt landed in the Taurus-Littrow region on the Moon. Schmitt was the first geologist to land on the Moon. Cernan and Schmitt drove 30 kilometers (18 miles) in their lunar rover, collected 110 kg (242 lb) of samples and spend 75 hours on the lunar surface. Apollo 17 brought to a close the human exploration of the Moon to date.
Soyuz L3 was designed to test a Soyuz capsule that was to function as the base for a lunar lander. 90 seconds after launch, 6 of the 30 engines shut down, triggering a catastrophic failure of the launch vehicle.
Launched: April 16, 1972 Lunar landing: April 21, 1972 Returned to Earth: April 27, 1972
While astronaut Thomas Mattingly orbited overhead, John Young and Charles Duke landed in the Descartes region on the Moon. Apollo 16 carried a lunar rover that astronauts drove 27 kilometers (16 miles). They were on the lunar surface for 71 hours and collected almost 95 kg (209 lb) of samples.
Launched: February 14, 1972 Lunar landing: February 21, 1972 Returned to Earth: February 25, 1972
Luna 20 soft landed in the Apollonius highlands near the Sea of Fertility. The spacecraft collected samples and then lifted off the next day. The sealed capsule containing 30 grams of lunar rocks and dust landed in the Soviet Union and was retrieved the following day.
Launched: July 26, 1971 Lunar landing: July 30, 1971 Returned to Earth: August 7, 1971.
While astronaut James Irwin orbited overhead, David Scott and Alfred Worden landed on the Moon in the Hadley Rille region. Apollo 15 was the first lander to carry a lunar rover. The astronauts drove the rover almost 28 kilometers (17 miles). The astronauts were on the lunar surface for almost 67 hours and collected 77 kg (169 lb) of samples.
Launched: January 31, 1971 Lunar landing: February 5, 1971 Returned to Earth: February 9, 1971
While astronaut Stuart Roosa orbited overhead, Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell landed on the Moon. Apollo 14 touched down in the Fra Mauro highlands, the original landing for Apollo 13. The astronauts were on the lunar surface for 33 hours and collected 42 kg (94 lb) of samples.
Launched: November 10, 1970 Lunar landing: November 15, 1970
Luna 17 soft landed on the Moon in the Sea of Rains. Two ramps extended away from the spacecraft, allowing the Lunokhod rover to roll onto the lunar terrain. Over the course of 11 lunar cycles, the remote controlled rover traveled over 10.5 kilometers (6 miles) and sent back 20,000 television pictures of the lunar landscape. The rover was officially shut down on October 4, 1971.
Launched: September 12, 1970 Lunar landing: September 20, 1970 Returned to Earth: September 24, 1970
Luna 16 was the first robotic mission to land on the Moon, collect samples of dust and rock, and return those samples to Earth. Luna 16 was also the first spacecraft to land in the lunar darkness. The spacecraft landed in the Sea of Fertility. After collecting dust and rock samples, the spacecraft was launched back into space 26 hours later. It returned to Earth with a soft landing on bringing back 101 grams of Moon rocks.
When Apollo 13 was half way to the Moon, an explosion in the spacecraft's Service Module required mission control to cancel the scheduled Moon landing and focus on bringing astronauts James Lovell, Fred Haise and John Swigert safely home. The mission was called a successful failure. While they failed to land on the Moon, the men did return home safely.
Launched: November 14, 1969 Lunar landing: November 19 1969 Returned to Earth: November 24, 1969
While astronaut Richard Gordon orbited overhead, Charles Conrad and Alan Bean landed on the Moon. Apollo 12 touched down in the Ocean of Storms, within walking distance of Surveyor 3. The astronauts were on the lunar surface for 31.5 hours and collected 34 kg (75 lb) of samples.
Launched: July 16, 1969 Lunar landing: July 20, 1969
While astronaut Michael Collins orbited overhead, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first men to land on the Moon, within the Sea of Tranquility. They remained on the lunar surface for a little over 21 hours and collected 20 kg (44 lb) of samples. Apollo 11 returned to Earth on July 24, 1969, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.
Luna 15 was launched in a veil of secrecy only three days before Apollo 11. The Soviets did not reveal the target or mission of Luna 15 causing some concern on the part of the United States. Would Luna 15's mission interfere with Apollo 11? Where would it land? Would there be communication interference? Just two hours before the liftoff of Apollo 11, Luna 15 began its descent to the surface in the Sea of Crisis. The spacecraft crashed landed on the lunar surface. The Soviets issued a statement claiming the research part of the mission was complete, but there had been hints that Luna 15 was intended to be sample return mission. No samples were returned.
Launched: December 21, 1968 Lunar orbit: December 24, 1968
Astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders were the first humans to leave the Earth and travel to the Moon. They arrived at the Moon, completed 10 orbits, and returned to Earth on December 27, 1968.
Zond 6 was seen by the western powers as being the Soviet Union's final test before launching cosmonauts to the Moon. Once the spacecraft left Earth orbit, it took 2 days to reach the Moon. There, it took pictures as it swung close to the lunar surface. Zond 6 then returned to Earth. Instead of splashing down in the Indian Ocean, like the previous Zond 5 mission, controllers programmed the spacecraft to bounce off the atmosphere and redirected the capsule to parachute to a landing within Soviet territory.
Zond 5 left Earth orbit, flew around the Moon and returned to our planet, splashing down in the Indian Ocean. The spacecraft was recovered and taken back to the USSR for study. Not much information was released about this mission, but many believed Zond 5 was one of the last steps before the Soviet Union landed cosmonauts on the Moon.
Launched: Jan. 7, 1968 Lunar landing: January 9, 1968
Surveyor 7 landed in the lunar highlands near the crater Tycho. Scientists used the scoop on the spacecraft to "weigh" lunar rocks, based on how much current was needed to lift each rock. Images sent back from the spacecraft indicated, for the first time, that some of the lunar rocks had been molten at some time in their history. The mission was successfully completed on February 21, 1968.
Launched: November 7, 1967 Lunar landing: November 9, 1967
Surveyor 6 touched down in Sinus Medii. Once on the surface, the spacecraft took a series of pictures and soil samples. Then, on November 17, controllers ordered the spacecraft's engines to fire, lifting Surveyor 6 off the lunar surface 3 meters (10 feet) and setting it down again a few feet from the original landing site. The spacecraft then took pictures of the former landing site, checking for evidence of a crater created by the rocket's exhaust. No crater was found, indicating that the Moon's surface was solid. Last contact with the spacecraft was December 14, 1967.
Launched: September 8, 1967 Lunar landing: September 10, 1967
Despite a serious helium leak that occurred during its trip to the Moon, controllers were able to bring Surveyor 5 to a success touchdown. Once on the ground, controllers ordered the spacecraft to fire its engine to test the composition of the soil beneath the lander. The test firing blew away a few clumps of soil, but did not create a crater. The final transmission from the spacecraft was received on December 17, 1967.
Launched: August 1, 1967 Lunar orbit: August 5, 1967
Upon completion of this mission, over 99% of the Moon's surface had been mapped (with data from all previous missions combined). The mission ended when controllers sent the spacecraft crashing to the lunar surface on January 31, 1968.
The spacecraft was the first to take pictures of the Moon's south pole. It took images from orbit for eight months before controllers sent the spacecraft crashing to the lunar surface. Crashing the spacecraft into the Moon kept an area around the Moon clear of debris that might compromise the upcoming manned missions.
Launched: April 17, 1967 Lunar landing: April 20, 1967
As Surveyor 3 came in for a soft landing on the Moon one of its thrusters didn't turn off at the proper time and the spacecraft bounced a couple of times before it came to rest in the Ocean of Storms. Onboard the spacecraft, a scoop was used to collect soil samples, and a camera took over 6,300 images.
Launched: February 4, 1967 Lunar orbit: February 8, 1967
The spacecraft's orbit was altered several times during the mission to give controllers on Earth more experience with communications during lunar orbit. Lunar Orbiter 3 was able to photograph Surveyor 2 on the surface. The mission ended on October 9, 1967, when controllers deliberately crashed the spacecraft into the Moon.
Launched: December 21, 1966 Lunar landing: December 24, 1966
Luna 13 bounced to a landing on the lunar surface coming to a rest in the Oceans of Storms between the craters Selencus and Craft. The lander collected soil samples and conducted experiments to determine the soil density and radioactivity. The mission ended on December 30, 1966, when the spacecraft's supplies were depleted.
Launched: November 6, 1966 Lunar orbit: November 6, 1966 Lunar impact: October 11, 1967
Lunar Orbiter 2 went into lunar orbit and took over 800 pictures during its mission, including an oblique view of the crater Copernicus that was voted one of the best images of the century by the press. The spacecraft was deliberately sent crashing into the lunar surface on October 11, 1967, bringing to an end the successful mission.
Launched: October 22, 1966 Lunar orbit: October 25, 1966
The primary mission of the spacecraft was to photograph the lunar surface and it did, taking 1,100 pictures including images of the Sea of Rains and the area surrounding the crater Aristarchus. The mission was terminated on January 19, 1967 after 602 orbits.
Launched: September 20, 1966 Lunar impact: September 22, 1966
Just before touchdown, one of the thrusters on the spacecraft malfunctioned during a mid course correction and Surveyor 2 tumbled out of control. It crashed into the moon, southeast of the crater Copernicus.
The spacecraft sent back high-quality images (by television) of over two million square miles of lunar surface, including the first detailed images of potential Apollo landing sites. After circling the Moon 527 times in 77 days, engineers on Earth deliberately crashed the spacecraft onto the Moon's surface, so that it wouldn't interfere with the upcoming manned missions.
Surveyor 1 was the first spacecraft from the United States to perform a controlled landing on the surface of the Moon. Once on the surface, Surveyor 1 took over 11,100 images of the lunar landscape during its six-week mission.
Launched: March 31, 1966 Lunar arrival: April 2, 1966
Luna 10 arrived at the Moon becoming the first spacecraft to successfully go into orbit around another celestial body. While in orbit, Luna 10 studied radiation levels, cosmic ray intensities, and took readings of the Moon's weak magnetic field. The spacecraft successfully transmitted data for two months, circling the Moon 460 times before its mission came to an end on May 30, 1966.
Launched: January 31, 1966 Lunar landing: February 3, 1966
Luna 9 became the first spacecraft to make a controlled landing onto the surface of another celestial body. Scientists believe Luna 9 landed on the sloping floor of a shallow crater. Over the next two days, the spacecraft sent back three panoramas of the lunar landscape. During the second and third transmission, the spacecraft evidently shifted or settled a few centimeters, because the third batch of images were taken from a slightly different angle. The different angle allowed scientists to construct a stereoscopic view of the landing site and determine the distances to various rocks and depressions. The last communication with the spacecraft was on Feb. 5, 1966.
Ranger 9 took over 5,800 images of the lunar surface before it crash-landed in the crater Alphonsus. Network television broadcasted images from the spacecraft as they were received - live from the Moon!
Launched: January 30, 1964 Lunar impact: February 2, 1964.
Ranger 6 was designed to take a series of images as it approached the Moon, right up to the point where it crashed into its surface. Unfortunately, the spacecraft's cameras failed and no pictures were returned. Ranger 6 crash-landed in the Sea of Tranquility.
Launched: April 23, 1962 Lunar impact: April 26, 1962
After a successful launch, a failure of some sort onboard Ranger 4 made communication with the spacecraft impossible. Engineers were able to track the spacecraft until it crashed on the far side of the Moon, but were unable to collect any data.
Ranger 2, like Ranger 1, was designed as a test vehicle. The spacecraft's engines failed to re-ignite after the spacecraft entered a low Earth orbit. The spacecraft burned up in Earth's atmosphere just two days after launch.
Ranger 1 was the first US spacecraft designed to test the feasibility of going into a parking orbit around Earth before heading out to the Moon. A parking orbit would give engineers time to calculate a much more accurate trajectory for the spacecraft to follow to the Moon. Ranger 1 made it into low Earth orbit. Its engines, which were supposed to re-ignite after 13 minutes and burn for 90 seconds, only burned for a few seconds and then shut off. The spacecraft eventually re-entered Earth's atmosphere after completing 111 orbits.
The protective cover that surrounded the spacecraft while it was attached to the rocket broke away after only 45 seconds in flight. As a result, the spacecraft failed to reach orbit and crashed back to Earth.
Luna 3 was the first spacecraft to take pictures of the far side of the Moon. It is uncertain how many pictures the spacecraft returned, but three images were released to the public, as well as a composite image of the full disc of the Moon's far side, which was made up of several frames. As a result of these pictures, the Russians were the first to name features on the far side of the Moon. Luna 3's trajectory took the spacecraft from Earth, around the Moon and back, where it reentered the Earth's atmosphere on April 20, 1960.
Launched: September 12, 1959 Lunar impact: September 14, 1959
Luna 2 was the first spacecraft to land on another celestial body. |The spacecraft impacted on the Moon's surface just east of the Sea of Serenity near the craters Aristides, Archimedes, and Autolycus. The spacecraft did not detect a magnetic field around the Moon.
The spacecraft missed the Moon and went into a solar orbit. However, the spacecraft did provide some scientific data when it released a sodium vapor cloud 70,000 miles from Earth that allowed scientists to study interplanetary gases.
Just after launch, the rocket's second and third stage failed to separate evenly. As a result, the spacecraft was unable to achieve a lunar trajectory. However, Pioneer 1 did manage to returned data on the Van Allen Belt and micrometeorite impacts before re-entering Earth's atmosphere on Oct. 12, 1958.