Jupiter is not only an interesting scientific destination in its own right—it's
also an important waypoint for spacecraft heading further into the solar
system. The gas giant's immense gravity field can provide a boost and
trajectory change for spacecraft heading to even further destinations.
Launch: 5 August 2011
Jupiter arrival: 4 July 2016
Following a lengthy cruise and October 2013 Earth flyby, Juno is surveying Jupiter from a polar orbit, carrying a suite of instruments designed to study the planet's interior. It is investigating the existence of an ice-rock core; determining the amount of global water and ammonia present in the atmosphere; studying convection and deep wind profiles in the atmosphere; investigating the origin of the Jovian magnetic field; and exploring the polar magnetosphere. Its science mission does not require a camera, but it does carry one, specifically designed to capture unusual and beautiful views of Jupiter from its unusual polar perspective for public pleasure.
Launch: 2022 (planned)
Arrival at Jupiter: 2029 (planned)
The European Space Agency's Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (JUICE) will focus on three of Jupiter's moons: Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa. The goals of the mission include mapping the surfaces of these moons, characterizing their interiors and potential subsurface oceans, and investigating their habitability.
Launch: January 19, 2006
Jupiter flyby: January–May, 2007
New Horizons is the result of a long battle to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a Jupiter gravity assist trajectory to Pluto. It observed Jupiter over five months around the flyby in early 2007, with its closest approach on February 27. It was the first spacecraft to observe the newly formed Little Red Spot, and also caught Io's north polar volcano Tvashtar in the middle of a spectacular eruption.
Launch: October 15, 1997
Jupiter flyby: December 30, 2000
Cassini-Huygens' path to Saturn required two flybys of Venus (on April 26, 1998, and June 24, 1999), one of Earth (on August 18, 1999), and one of Jupiter (on December 30, 2010). During the Jupiter encounter, Cassini conducted coordinated observations with Galileo. The Huygens probe descent was wildly successful, revealing a strange new world of channels and basins on Titan. Cassini shaped its orbit around Saturn with numerous gravity-assist flybys of Titan, occasionally surveying Saturn from above or below (with lovely perspectives on the rings) and occasionally from within the ring plane (affording frequent encounters with Saturn's other, smaller moons). Cassini's mission was extended twice, and ended on September 15, 2017, after 293 complete orbits of Saturn, with the spacecraft's plunge into the atmosphere.
Launch: October 18, 1989
Jupiter probe descent: December 7, 1995
Jupiter orbit insertion: December 8, 1995
Plunge into Jupiter: September 22, 2003
NASA's Galileo was the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter.
Launch: September 5, 1977
Jupiter encounter: January 4 to April 13, 1979
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft flew by Jupiter on March 5, 1979, taking more than 18,000 images of planet and its moons.
Launch: August 20, 1977
Jupiter encounter: April 25 to August 5, 1979
NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Jupiter on July 9, 1979.
Launch: April 5, 1973
Jupiter flyby: December 2, 1974
Pioneer 11 was the second spacecraft to explore the outer solar system (the first being Pioneer 10). Pioneer 11 flew within 34,000 kilometers (21,100 miles) of the Jovian cloud tops. The spacecraft studied the planet's magnetic field and atmosphere and took pictures of the planet and some of its moons. It then flew by Saturn on September 1, 1979 and continued on out of the solar system. Instruments were finally shut down on September 9, 1995, when there was no longer enough power.
Launch: March 2, 1972
Jupiter flyby: December 3, 1973
Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to pass through the Asteroid Belt and explore the outer solar system. It flew within 200,000 kilometers of the Jovian cloud tops. Scientists were surprised at the tremendous radiation levels experienced by the spacecraft as it passed the gas giant planet.