Space Exploration Missions

NASA, the world's space agencies, and other groups explore our solar system and beyond with space missions. Our guides teach you why these missions matter and how to get involved. For weekly space news and tools to advance space science and exploration, sign up our weekly newsletter The Downlink.

• Europe and Japan's BepiColombo launched in 2018 and arrives at Mercury in 2025.

In Progress

• Japan's Akatsuki studies the planet's dymanic atmosphere.

Coming Soon

• India's Shukrayaan-1 launches in 2023 to map the surface with radar and infrared detectors.

In Progress

• The International Space Station prepares astronauts for deep space missions.
• The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 launched in 2019 and demonstrates controlled solar sailing in Earth orbit.
• NASA repurposed NEOWISE in 2013 to hunt for dangerous asteroids, but the aging spacecraft needs a successor.

Coming Soon

• China's Tianhe module launches in 2021 to form the core of a new space station in Earth orbit.
• NASA's DART launches in 2021 to crash into an asteroid, helping us understand how to stop one on course to hit Earth.
• The European Space Agency's Hera spacecraft launches in 2024 to study the asteroid DART impacts.
• NASA's Solar Cruiser launches in 2025 and will use a large solar sail to create an artificial orbit between the Earth and Sun.
• NASA's NEO Surveyor launches in the mid-2020s to find 90% of asteroids large enough to destroy a city.

In Progress

• China's Chang'e-5 returned lunar samples to Earth in 2020, and is on an extended mission to study the Sun and possibly asteroids.
• India's Chandrayaan-2 orbiter maps the Moon's topography, studies its composition, and scans for water ice.
• China's Chang'e-4 performed the first landing on the Moon's far side in 2018, where it studies an ancient region.
• NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter studies the Moon with a high-powered camera.

Coming Soon

• NASA's Artemis program will return humans to the Moon. The first test flight, Artemis 1, is scheduled for 2021.
• The Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter is a technology demonstration mission planned for 2022.
• NASA’s VIPER rover launches to the Moon's south pole in 2023 to study water ice.
• Israeli non-profit SpaceIL launches Beresheet2 to the Moon in 2024 to conduct scientific experiments and public outreach.

In Progress

• NASA's Perseverance rover landed in February of 2021 and will search for past life and collect samples for return to Earth.
• China's Tianwen-1 is an orbiter and rover mission that arrived in February 2021 to study the planet.
• The United Arab Emirates' Hope orbiter arrived in February 2021 and will build a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere. 
• NASA's MAVEN orbiter studies what happened to Mars' atmosphere.
• NASA's InSight lander studies the planet's interior. 
• ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter searches for atmospheric gases linked to life as we know it.
• India's Mangalyaan orbiter is a technology demonstration mission studying the planet.
• ESA's Mars Express surveys the planet and searches for subsurface water.
• NASA's Curiosity rover explores an ancient lake bed that once had conditions that could have supported life.
• NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter studies the planet with a high-powered camera and relays communications between the surface and Earth.
• NASA's long-lived Odyssey monitors surface changes.

Coming Soon

• Russia's Kazachok lander and ESA's Rosalind Franklin rover launch together in 2024 to search for signs of life.
• Japan's Martian Moons eXploration mission launches in 2024 to collect samples of Phobos for return to Earth.
Mars Sample Return is a series of missions by NASA and ESA to return samples from Mars to Earth in the early 2030s.

In Progress

• NASA's New Horizons flew past distant Pluto and Arrokoth and is exploring a region of our solar system called the Kuiper Belt.
• Japan's Hayabusa2 returned a sample of asteroid Ryugu to Earth in 2020 and is on a journey to two more asteroids.
• NASA's OSIRIS-REx collected a sample of asteroid Bennu for return to Earth in 2023.

Coming Soon

• NASA's Lucy launches in 2021 to explore asteroids that share Jupiter's orbit.
• NASA's NEA Scout launches in 2021 to demonstrate a low-cost method of asteroid reconnaissance.
• NASA's Psyche launches in 2023 to visit a same-named metal asteroid that may be the core of an exposed planet.
• ESA's Comet Interceptor launches in 2028 to intercept a newly discovered, scientifically interesting comet.

In Progress

• NASA's Juno studies the planet's core to help us understand how planets and our solar system formed. 

Coming Soon

• ESA's JUICE launches in 2022 to explore Jupiter and its icy moons Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede.
• NASA's Europa Clipper launches in the mid-2020s to determine whether Jupiter's moon Europa could support life.

Coming Soon

• NASA's Dragonfly launches in 2027 to explore Saturn's moon Titan. 

Now on an extended mission to interstellar space, NASA's Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have ever visited Uranus. See pictures it captured in 1986.

Only NASA's Voyager 2 has visited Neptune. See pictures it took in 1989 before cruising onward to interstellar space.

In Progress

• NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is a multipurpose astrophysics and planetary science observatory.
• ESA's CHEOPS precisely measures the diameters of known exoplanets.
• NASA's TESS hunts for exoplanets around a specific type of bright stars.

Coming Soon

• NASA's James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2021 to build on the Hubble Space Telescope's capabilities.
• NASA's Roman Space Telescope will launch in the mid-2020s and image Earth-sized exoplanets.