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Chronology of Space Exploration

Contents

1912 - 1949 - 1957 - 1960 - 1961 - 1965
1966 - 1970 - 1971 - 1975 - 1976 - 1980
1981 - 1985 - 1986 - 1990 - 1991 - 1995
1996 - 2000 - 2001 - 2005 - 2006 - 2010 2011 - 2015

  • Balloon flight - Europe - (1912)
      Discovered cosmic rays.
  • NRL V-2 rocket - USA - (1946)
      First observation of the Sun's UV spectrum.
  • NRL V-2 rocket - USA - (1949)
      First observation of solar x rays.

  • Sputnik-1 - USSR - (1957)
      First artificial satellite.
  • Explorer III - USA - (1958)
      Discovered Earth's radiation belt.
  • Pioneer 0 - USA Lunar Orbiter - (August 17, 1958)
      First stage exploded.
  • Pioneer 1 - USA Lunar Orbiter - (October 11, 1958)
      Failed to reach escape velocity.
  • Pioneer 3 - USA Lunar Flyby - (December 6, 1958)
      Failed to reach escape velocity.
  • Luna 1 - USSR Lunar Flyby - 361 kg - (January 2, 1959)
      Luna 1 was the first lunar flyby. It discovered the solar wind and is now in a solar orbit.
  • Pioneer 4 - USA Distant Lunar Flyby - 5.9 kg - (March 3, 1959)
      Space probe is now in a solar orbit.
  • Luna 2 - USSR Lunar Hard Lander - 387 kg - (September 12, 1959)
      Luna 2 was the first spacecraft to impact the surface of the moon on September 14, 1959.
  • Luna 3 - USSR Lunar Far Side Flyby - 278.5 kg - (October 4, 1959)
      Encountered the Moon on October 7, 1959 and returned the first image of the Moon's hidden side. Space probe is now in a decayed earth-moon orbit.
  • Pioneer 5 - USA Solar Monitor - (March 11, 1960)
      Space probe is now in a solar orbit.
  • Mars 1960A - USSR Mars Probe - (October 10, 1960)
      Failed to reach Earth orbit.
  • Mars 1960B - USSR Mars Probe - (October 14, 1960)
      Failed to reach Earth orbit.

  • Venera 1 - USSR Venus Flyby - 643.5 kg - (February 12, 1961)
      Now in a solar orbit.
  • Aerobee Rocket - USA - (1962)
      Observed the first x-ray star.
  • Ranger 3 - USA Lunar Hard Lander - 327 kg - (January 26, 1962)
      Lunar probe missed the moon and is now in a solar orbit.
  • Ranger 4 - USA Lunar Hard Lander - 328 kg - (April 23, 1962)
      First US lunar impact of the Moon.
  • Mariner 2 - USA Venus Flyby - 201 kg - (August 27, 1962 - January 3, 1963)
      On December 14, 1962, Mariner 2 arrived at Venus at a distance of 34,800 kilometers and scanned its surface with infrared and microwave radiometers, capturing data that showed Venus's surface to be about 425°C (800°F). Three weeks after the Venus flyby Mariner 2 went off the air on January 3, 1963. It is now in a solar orbit.
  • Ranger 5 - USA Lunar Flyby - 340 kg - (October 18, 1962)
      Ranger 5 was to be a lander but became a flyby because of a spacecraft failure. It is now in a solar orbit.
  • Mars 1962A - USSR Mars Flyby - (October 24, 1962)
      Spacecraft failed to leave Earth orbit after the final rocket stage exploded.
  • Mars 1 - USSR Mars Flyby - 893 kg - (November 1, 1962)
      Communications failed en route.
  • Mars 1962B - USSR Mars Lander - (November 4, 1962)
      Failed to leave Earth orbit.
  • Luna 4 - USSR Lunar Probe - 1,422 kg - (April 2, 1963)
      Lunar 4 was intended to be a lunar lander but missed the Moon. It is now in an Earth Moon orbit.
  • Ranger 6 - USA Lunar Hard Lander - 361.8 kg - (January 30, 1964)
      Cameras failed; lunar probe impacted the surface of the Moon.
  • Zond 1 - USSR Venus Flyby - 890 kg - (April 2, 1964)
      Communication lost en route; now in a solar orbit.
  • Ranger 7 - USA Lunar Hard Lander - 362 kg - (July 28, 1964)
      Arrived on July 31, 1964, sent pictures back at a close range, and impacted the Moon.
  • Mariner 3 - USA Mars Flyby - 260 kg - (November 5, 1964)
      Mars flyby attempt. Solar panels did not open, preventing flyby. Mariner 3 is now in a solar orbit.
  • Mariner 4 - USA Mars Flyby - 260 kg - (November 28, 1964 - December 20, 1967)
      Mariner 4 arrived at Mars on July 14, 1965 and passed within 9,920 kilometers of the planet's surface. It returned 22 close-up photos showing a cratered surface. The thin atmosphere was confirmed to be composed of carbon dioxide in the range of 5-10 mbar. A small intrinsic magnetic field was detected. Mariner 4 is now in a solar orbit.
  • Zond 2 - USSR Mars Flyby - (November 30, 1964)
      Contact was lost en route.
  • Ranger 8 - USA Lunar Hard Lander - 366 kg - (February 17, 1965)
      Ranger 8 arrived at the moon on February 20, 1965. It sent back high-resolution pictures until it impacted in Mare Tranquillitatis.
  • Ranger 9 - USA Lunar Hard Lander - 366 kg - (March 21, 1965)
      Lunar probe sent pictures of its impact on the moon.
  • Luna 5 - USSR Lunar Soft Lander - 1,474 kg - (May 9, 1965)
      The lunar soft-lander failed and impacted the moon.
  • Luna 6 - USSR Lunar Soft Lander - 1,440 kg - (June 8, 1965)
      Missed the moon and is now in a solar orbit.
  • Zond 3 - USSR Lunar Flyby - 959 kg - (July 18, 1965)
      Returned pictures of the lunar far side. It is now in a solar orbit.
  • Luna 7 - USSR Lunar Soft Lander - 1,504 kg - (October 4, 1965)
      Luna 7 failed and impacted the moon.

  • Venera 2 - USSR Venus Flyby - 962 kg - (November 12, 1965 - 1966)
      Communications failed just before arrival. Now in solar orbit.
  • Venera 3 - USSR Venus Atmospheric Probe - 958 kg - (November 16, 1965 - 1966)
      Communications failed just before atmosphere entry. Crashed on Venus.
  • Luna 8 - USSR Lunar Soft Lander - 1,550 kg - (December 3, 1965)
      Luna 8 failed and impacted the moon.
  • Pioneer 6 - USA Solar Probe - 63.4 kg - (December 16, 1965 - Present)
      The Probe is still transmitting from solar orbit.
  • Luna 9 - USSR Lunar Soft Lander - 1,580 kg - (January 31, 1966)
      Luna 9 landed on the lunar surface and retuned the first photographs from the surface.
  • Luna 10 - USSR Lunar Orbiter - 1,597 kg - (March 31, 1966)
      Luna 10 is currently in a lunar orbit.
  • Surveyor 1 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 269 kg - (April 30, 1966 to 1967)
      Surveyor 1 was the first American soft landing on the lunar surface.
  • Lunar Orbiter 1 - USA Lunar Orbiter - 386 kg - (August 10, 1966)
      Lunar Orbiter 1 orbited the moon, photographed the far side, and then impacted on command.
  • Pioneer 7 - USA Solar Probe - 63 kg - (August 17, 1966 - ?)
      Solar-orbiting probe was recently turned off.
  • Luna 11 - USSR Lunar Orbiter - 1,638 kg - (August 24, 1966)
      Luna 11 is currently in a lunar orbit.
  • Surveyor 2 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 292 kg - (September 20, 1966)
      Surveyor 2 failed and impacted the moon.
  • Luna 12 - USSR Lunar Orbiter - 1,620 - (October 22, 1966-1967)
      Luna 12 is in a lunar orbit.
  • Lunar Orbiter 2 - USA Lunar Orbiter - 390 kg - (November 6, 1966)
      Orbited the moon, photographed the far side for potential Apollo landing sites, then impacted on command.
  • Luna 13 - USSR Lunar Soft Lander - 1,700 kg - (December 21, 1966)
      Landed on the lunar surface.
  • Lunar Orbiter 3 - USA Lunar Orbiter - 385 kg - (February 5, 1967)
      Orbited the moon, photographed the far side for potential Apollo 12 landing sites, then impacted on command.
  • Surveyor 3 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 283 kg - (April 17, 1967)
      Landed on the lunar surface.
  • Lunar Orbiter 4 - USA Lunar Orbiter - 390 kg - (May 4, 1967)
      Orbited the moon at a polar inclination and impacted on command.
  • Venera 4 - USSR Venus Atmospheric Probe - 1,104 kg - (June 12, 1967)
      Venera 4 arrived at Venus on October 18, 1967. This was the first probe to be placed directly into the atmosphere and to return atmospheric data. It showed that the atmosphere was 90-95% carbon dioxide. It detected no nitrogen. The surface temperature reading was 500°C and pressure reading was 75 bar. It was crushed by the pressure on Venus before it reached the surface.
  • Mariner 5 - USA Venus Flyby - 244 kg - (June 14 to November, 1967)
      Mariner 5 arrived at Venus on October 19, 1967, one day after Venera 4. It passed within 3,900 kilometers of the planet's surface. It studied the Venusian magnetic field and found that its atmosphere was composed of 85-99% carbon dioxide. It is now in a solar orbit.
  • Surveyor 4 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 283 kg - (July 14, 1967)
      Lander failed and impacted the moon.
  • Explorer 35 - USA Lunar Orbiter - 104 kg - (July 19, 1967 - 1972)
      Orbiter acquired field and particle data.
  • Lunar Orbiter 5 - USA Lunar Orbiter - 389 kg (August 1, 1967)
      Orbited the moon at a polar inclination, took high resolution pictures of many important sites, and impacted on command.
  • Surveyor 5 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 279 kg - (September 8, 1967)
      Landed on the lunar surface.
  • Surveyor 6 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 280 kg - (November 7, 1967)
      Landed on and took off from the lunar surface.
  • Pioneer 8 - USA Solar Probe - 63 kg - (December 13, 1967 - Present)
      Solar probe is still transmitting from solar orbit.
  • Surveyor 7 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 1,036 kg - (January 7, 1968)
      Landed on the lunar surface.
  • Luna 14 - USSR Lunar Probe - 1,700 kg - (April 7, 1968)
      Luna 14 is in a lunar-solar orbit.
  • Zond 5 - USSR Lunar Flyby - 5,375 kg - (September 14, 1968)
      Lunar fly-around and earth return.
  • Pioneer 9 - USA Solar Probe - 63 kg - (November 8, 1968 - March 3, 1987)
      Still in solar orbit. Died on March 3, 1987.
  • Zond 6 - USSR Lunar Flyby - 5,375 - (November 10, 1968)
      Lunar fly-around and earth return.
  • Apollo 8 - USA Lunar Manned Orbiter - 28,883 kg - (December 21-27, 1968)
      Crew: Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., William Anders.
      The crew undertook the first manned lunar fly-around and Earth return. The astronauts made 10 orbits of the moon on Christmas Eve.
  • Venera 5 - USSR Venus Atmosphere Probe - 1,128 kg - (January 5, 1969)
      Venera 5 arrived at Venus on May 16, 1969. Along with Venera 6, atmospheric data was returned indicating an atmosphere composed of 93-97% carbon dioxide, 2-5% nitrogen, and less than 4% oxygen. The probe returned data down to within 26 kilometers of surface and was then lost - crushed by the pressure on Venus.
  • Venera 6 - USSR Venus Atmosphere Probe - 1,128 kg - (January 10, 1969)
      Venera 6 arrived at Venus on May 17, 1969. Along with Venera 5, atmospheric data was returned indicating an atmosphere composed of 93-97% carbon dioxide, 2-5% nitrogen, and less than 4% oxygen. The probe returned data down to within 11 kilometers of surface and was then lost - crushed by the pressure on Venus.
  • Mariner 6 - USA Mars Flyby - 412 kg - (February 24, 1969)
      Mariner 6 arrived at Mars on February 24, 1969, and passed within 3,437 kilometers of the planet's equatorial region. Mariner 6 and 7 took measurements of the surface and atmospheric temperature, surface molecular composition, and pressure of the atmosphere. In addition, over 200 pictures were taken. Mariner 6 is now in a solar orbit.
  • Mariner 7 - USA Mars Flyby - 412 kg - (March 27, 1969)
      Mariner 7 arrived at Mars on August 5, 1969, and passed within 3,551 kilometers of the planet's south pole region. Mariner 6 and 7 took measurements of the surface and atmospheric temperature, surface molecular composition, and pressure of the atmosphere. In addition, over 200 pictures were taken. Mariner 7 is now in a solar orbit.
  • Apollo 10 - USA Lunar Manned Orbiter - 42,530 kg - (May 18-26, 1969)
      Crew: Thomas Stafford, Eugene A. Cernan, John W. Young.
      Manned lunar fly-around and Earth return. Stafford and Cernan tested the Lunar Module, separating it from the Command and Service Module and descended to within 50,000 feet of the lunar surface. The astronauts acquired a large number of excellent 70-mm photographs.
  • Luna 15 - USSR Lunar Lander - 2,718 kg - (July 13, 1969)
      Unsuccessful sample return attempt. Crashed during landing.
  • Apollo 11 - USA Lunar Manned Lander - 43,811 kg - (July 16-24, 1969)
      Crew: Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., Michael Collins.
      Apollo 11 was the first manned lunar landing, which took place on July 20, 1969. The landing site was Mare Tranquillitatis at latitude 0°67' N and longitude 23°49' E. Armstrong and Aldrin collected 21.7 kilograms of soil and rock samples and deployed experiments.
  • Zond 7 - USSR Lunar Flyby - 5,979 kg - (August 8, 1969)
      Lunar fly-around and Earth return.
  • Apollo 12 - USA Lunar Manned Lander - 43,848 kg - (November 14-24, 1969)
      Crew: Charles Conrad Jr., Alan L. Bean, Richard F. Gordon, Jr.
      Apollo 12 was a manned lunar landing which took place on November 19, 1969. The landing site was Oceanus Procellarum at latitude 3°12' S and longitude 23°23' W. This was the landing site for Surveyor 3. Conrad and Bean retrieved portions of Surveyor 3, including the camera. Samples amounting to 34.4 kilograms were returned from the moon. Astronauts also deployed the Apollo lunar surface experiment package (ALSEP), an automated research station which was also deployed by all subsequent lunar crews.
  • Apollo 13 - USA Lunar Flyby - 43,924 kg - (April 11-17, 1970)
      Crew: James A. Lovell, Jr., Fred W. Haise, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr.
      The Apollo 13 mission became one of survival for the astronauts on board. During the translunar coast an explosion destroyed both power and propulsion systems of the Command Service Module. The Lunar Module was used as a lifeboat for the astronauts.
  • Venera 7 - USSR Venus Lander - 1180 kg - (August 17, 1970)
      Venera 7 arrived at Venus on December 15, 1970 and was the first successful landing of a spacecraft on another planet. It used an external cooling device which allowed it to send back 23 minutes of data. The surface temperature was 475°C, and surface pressure was 90 bar.
  • Luna 16 - USSR Lunar Lander - 5,600 kg - (September 12, 1970)
      Landed on September 20, 1970 at Mare Fecunditaits located at latitude 0°41' S and longitude 56°18' E. 100 grams of lunar samples were returned to the Earth.
  • Zond 8 - USSR Lunar Flyby - (October 20, 1970)
      Lunar flyby and earth return.
  • Luna 17 - USSR Lunar Lander and Rover - 5,600 kg - (November 10, 1970 - 1971)
      Made lunar landing with an automated Lunokhod 1 rover.

  • Apollo 14 - USA Lunar Manned Lander - 44,456 kg - (January 31 to February 8, 1971)
      Crew: Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Edgar D. Mitchell, Stuart A. Roosa.
      Shepard and Mitchell landed on the moon on February 5, 1971, in the Fra Mauro highlands, located at 3°40' S and longitude 17°28' E. They collected 42.9 kilograms of lunar samples and used a hand-held cart to transport rocks and equipment.
  • Mariner 8 - USA Mars Flyby - (May 8, 1971)
      Failed to reach Earth orbit.
  • Kosmos 419 - USSR Mars Probe - (May 10, 1971)
      Failed to leave Earth orbit.
  • Mars 2 - USSR Mars Orbiter/Soft Lander - 4,650 kg - (May 19, 1971)
      The Mars 2 lander was released from the orbiter on November 27, 1971. It crashed-landed because its breaking rockets failed - no data was returned and the first human artifact was created on Mars. The orbiter returned data until 1972.
  • Mars 3 - USSR Mars Orbiter/Soft Lander - 4,643 kg - (May 28, 1971)
      Mars 3 arrived at Mars on December 2, 1971. The lander was released and became the first successful landing on Mars. It failed after relaying 20 seconds of video data to the orbiter. The Mars 3 orbiter returned data until August, 1972. It made measurements of surface temperature and atmospheric composition.
  • Mariner 9 - USA Mars Orbiter - 974 kg - (May 30, 1971 - 1972)
      Mariner 9 arrived at Mars on November 3, 1971 and was placed into orbit on November 24. This was the first US spacecraft to enter an orbit around a planet other than the Moon. At the time of its arrival a huge dust storm was in progress on the planet. Many of the scientific experiments were delayed until the storm had subsided. The first hi-resolution images of the moons Phobos and Deimos were taken. River and channel like features were discovered. Mariner 9 is still in Martian orbit.
  • Apollo 15 - USA Lunar Manned Lander - 46,723 kg - (July 26 to August 7, 1971)
      Crew: David R. Scott, James B. Irwin, Alfred M. Worden.
      Scott and Irwin landed on the moon on July 30, 1971. The landing site was Hadley-Apennine at latitude 26°6' N and longitude 3°39' E. They collected samples amounting to 76.8 kilograms. A lunar Roving Vehicle was carried on this mission (and all subsequent ones) which allowed the astronauts to travel several kilometers from the landing site. The commander service module was the first to carry orbital sensors and to release a subsatellite into lunar orbit. Worden performed the first deep spacewalk to retrieve film from the service module.
  • Luna 18 - USSR Lunar Lander - 5,600 kg - (September 2, 1971 - 1972)
      Unsuccessful sample return attempt. Crashed during landing.
  • Luna 19 - USSR Lunar Orbiter - 5,600 kg - (September 28, 1971 - 1972)
      The orbiter is now in a lunar orbit.
  • Luna 20 - USSR Lunar Lander - 5,600 kg - (February 14, 1972)
      Landed on the moon and returned samples to the Earth. Landed on February 21, 1972 at Apollonius highlands located at latitude 3°32' N and longitude 56°33' E. 30 grams of lunar samples were returned to the Earth.
  • Pioneer 10 - USA Jupiter Flyby - 259 kg - (March 3, 1972)
      Pioneer 10 flew by Jupiter on December 1, 1973. It passed 132,250 kilometers from Jupiter's cloud tops. It returned over 500 images of Jupiter and its moons. Pioneer 10's greatest achievement was the data collected on Jupiter's magnetic field, trapped charged particles, and solar wind interactions. The orbit boundary of Pluto was crossed on June 13, 1983. It has now left the solar system.
  • Venera 8 - USSR Venus Lander - 1,180 kg - (March 27, 1972)
      Venera 8 arrived at Venus on July 22, 1972. It measure wind speed variations as it descended through the atmosphere: 100 meters/second above 48 kilometers, 40-47 meters/second at 42-48 kilometers, and 1 meter/second below 10 kilometers. It returned data for 50 minutes after it landed.
  • Apollo 16 - USA Manned Lunar Lander - 46,733 kg - (April 16-27, 1972)
      Crew: John W. Young, Charles M. Duke, Jr., Thomas K. Mattingly II.
      Young and Duke landed on April 21, 1972, at the Descartes crater located at latitude 9°00' N and longitude 15°31' E. They deployed instruments, drove the lunar rover, and collected 94.7 kilograms of samples during a 71-hour surface stay.
  • Apollo 17 - USA Manned Lunar Lander - 46,743 kg - (December 7-19, 1972)
      Crew: Eugene A. Cernan, Harrison H. Schmitt, and Ronald B. Evans.
      Cernan and Schmitt landed on the moon on December 12, 1972. The landing site was Taurus-Littrow at latitude 20°10' N and longitude 30°46' E. They returned 110.5 kg of rock and soil samples. The astronauts covered 30.5 kilometers in the lunar rover during a 75-hour stay.
  • Luna 21 - USSR Lunar Lander and Rover - 4,850 kg - (January 8, 1973)
      Made lunar landing with an automated Lunokhod 2 rover.
  • Pioneer 11 - USA Jupiter/Saturn Flyby - 259 kg - (April 6, 1973 - November 1995)
      Pioneer 11 flew by Jupiter on December 1, 1974 passing 42,900 kilometers from Jupiter's cloud tops. It took better pictures than Pioneer 10, and measured Jupiter's intense charged-particle and magnet field environment. As it flew by Jupiter it was given a gravity assist which swung it onto a course for Saturn. On September 1, 1979, Pioneer 11 flew past the outer edge of Saturn's A ring at a range of 3,500 kilometers. It traveled underneath the ring system and passed 20,930 kilometers from Saturn's cloud tops. It has now left the solar system.
  • Skylab - USA Space Station - (May 26, 1973)
      Skylab, which was America's first space station, was manned for 171 days by three crews during 1973 and 1974. The space station included the Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM), which astronauts used to take more than 150,000 images of the Sun. Skylab was abandoned in February 1974 and re-entered the Earth's atmosphere in 1979.
  • Explorer 49 - USA Solar Probe - 328 kg - (June 10, 1973)
      Solar physics probe placed in lunar orbit.
  • Mars 4 - USSR Mars Orbiter - 4,650 kg - (July 21, 1973)
      Mars 4 arrived at Mars on February, 1974, but failed to go into orbit due to a malfunction of its breaking engine. It flew past the planet with in 2,200 kilometers of the surface. It returned some images and data.
  • Mars 5 - USSR Mars Orbiter - 4,650 kg - (July 25, 1973)
      Mars 5 entered into orbit around Mars on February 12, 1974. It acquired imaging data for the Mars 6 and 7 missions.
  • Mars 6 - USSR Mars Orbiter/Soft Lander - 4,650 kg - (August 5, 1973)
      On March 12, 1974, Mars 6 entered into orbit and launched its lander. The lander returned atmospheric descent data, but failed on its way down.
  • Mars 7 - USSR Mars Orbiter/Soft Lander - 4,650 kg - (August 9, 1973)
      On March 6, 1974, Mars 7 failed to go into orbit about Mars and the lander missed the planet. Carrier and lander are now in a solar orbit.
  • Mariner 10 - USA Mercury/Venus Flyby - 526 kg - (November 3, 1973 - March 24, 1975)
      Mariner 10 was the first dual planet mission. It flew past Venus on February 5, 1974 for a gravity assist to the planet Mercury. Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft to have an imaging system. It recorded circulation in the Venusian atmosphere and showed the temperature of the cloud tops to be -23°C. Mariner 10 flew past Mercury 3 times on March 29, 1974, September 21, 1974, and March 16, 1975. These three encounters produced over 10,000 pictures with 57% planet coverage. It recorded surface temperatures ranging from 187°C to -183°C on the day and night sides. A weak magnetic field was detected but it failed to detect an atmosphere. Mariner 10 is now in a solar orbit.
  • Luna 22 - USSR Lunar Orbiter - 5,600 kg - (May 29, 1974 - 1975)
      Successfully entered lunar orbit.
  • Luna 23 - USSR Lunar Probe - 5,6000 kg - (October 28, 1974)
      Crashed on the lunar surface.
  • Helios 1 - USA & West Germany Solar Probe - 370 kg - (December 10, 1974 - 1975)
      Solar probe is in a solar orbit; came within 47 million kilometers of the Sun.
  • Venera 9 - USSR Venus Orbiter and Lander - 4,936 kg (June 8, 1975)
      Venera 9 arrived at Venus on October 22, 1975, three days before its sister spacecraft Venera 10. Both orbiters photographed the clouds and looked at the upper atmosphere. Differences in cloud layers were discovered at 57-70 kilometers, 52-57 kilometers, and 49-52 kilometers from the surface. The lander arrived on the Venusian surface on November 22, 1975. During a period of 53 minutes, it transmitted the first black and white images of the planets surface. It showed sharp-edged flat rocks and a basaltic terrain. The probe in now in a Venus orbit.
  • Venera 10 - USSR Venus Orbiter and Lander - 5,033 kg - (June 14, 1975)
      Venera 10 arrived at Venus on October 25, 1975, three days after its sister spacecraft Venera 9. Both orbiters photographed the clouds and looked at the upper atmosphere. Differences in cloud layers were discovered at 57-70 kilometers, 52-57 kilometers, and 49-52 kilometers from the surface. The lander arrived on the Venusian surface on November 25, 1975. During a period of 65 minutes, it transmitted black and white images of the planets surface. The terrain was more eroded than at the Venera 9 landing site.
  • Viking 1 - USA Mars Orbiter/Lander - 3,399 kg - (August 20, 1975 - August 7, 1980)
      Viking 1 and 2 were designed after the Mariner spacecraft. They consisted of an orbiter and lander. The orbiter weighed 900 kg and the lander 600 kg. Viking 1 went into orbit about Mars on June 19, 1976. The lander touched down on July 20, 1976 on the western slopes of Chryse Planitia. Both landers had experiments to search for Martian micro-organism. The results of these experiments are still being debated. The landers provided detailed color panoramic views of the Martian terrain. They also monitored the Martian weather. The orbiters mapped the planet's surface, acquiring over 52,000 images. Viking 1 orbiter was deactivate on August 7, 1980 when it ran out of altitude-control propellant. Viking 1 lander was accidentally shut down on November 13, 1982, and communication was never regained.
  • Viking 2 - USA Mars Orbiter/Lander - 3,399 kg - (September 9, 1975 - July 25, 1978)
      Viking 1 and 2 were designed after the Mariner spacecraft. They consisted of an orbiter and lander. The orbiter weighed 900 kg and the lander 600 kg. Viking 2 went into orbit about Mars on July 24, 1976. The lander touched down on August 7, 1976 at Utopia Planitia. Both landers had experiments to search for Martian micro-organism. The results of these experiments are still being debated. The landers provided detailed color panoramic views of the Martian terrain. They also monitored the Martian weather. The orbiters mapped the planet's surface, acquiring over 52,000 images. Viking 2 orbiter was deactivate on July 25, 1978 when it ran out of altitude-control propellant. Viking 2 lander used Viking 1 orbiter as a communications relay, and had to be shut down at the same time as the orbiter on August 7, 1980.

  • Helios 2 - USA & West Germany Solar Probe - (January 16, 1976)
      Solar probe came within 43 million kilometers of the Sun.
  • Luna 24 - USSR Lunar Lander - 4,800 kg - (August 9, 1976)
      The landing site was Mare Crisium at latitude 12°45' N and longitude 60°12' E. Samples amounting to 170 grams were returned from the moon.
  • Voyager 2 - USA Jupiter/Saturn/Uranus/Neptune Flyby - 800 kg - (August 20, 1977)
      Voyager 2 flew by Jupiter on July 9, 1979, Saturn on August 26, 1981, Uranus on January 24, 1986, and Neptune on August 24, 1989.
  • Voyager 1 - USA Jupiter/Saturn Flyby - 800 kg - (September 5, 1977)
      Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter on March 5, 1979, and Saturn on November 12, 1980.
  • Pioneer Venus 1 - USA Venus Orbiter - 582 kg - (May 20, 1978 - October 8, 1992)
      Pioneer Venus 1 (also known as Pioneer 12) arrived at Venus on December 4, 1978. It operated continuously from 1978 until October 8, 1992, when contact was lost with the spacecraft. It was expected to burn up in the Venusian atmosphere 6 days later. The orbiter was the first spacecraft to use radar in mapping the planet's surface. The electron field experiment detected radio bursts presumably caused by lightening. No magnetic field was detected. From 1978 to 1988 the amount of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere decreased by 10%. The reason for this decrease is unknown. Perhaps a large volcano erupted just before the orbiter arrived and the amount of sulfur dioxide slowly declined.
  • Pioneer Venus 2 - USA Venus Atmosphere Probe - 904 kg - (August 8, 1978)
      Pioneer Venus 2 (also know as Pioneer 13) carried four atmospheric probes. One large and three smaller ones. They arrived at Venus on December 9, 1978 and plunged into the atmosphere. The four probes descended through the atmosphere by parachute while the spacecraft burned up high in the atmosphere. At a height of 70-90 kilometers the probes encountered a fine haze layer. Between 10-50 kilometers there was little atmospheric convection and below 30 kilometers the atmosphere was clear.
  • International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 - USA Interplanetary Monitor - 479 kg - (August 12, 1978)
      The Internation Sun-Earth Explorer was renamed to International Cometary Explorer (ICE). On September 11, 1985 it passed through the plasma tail of comet Giacobini-Zinner.
  • Venera 11 - USSR Venus Flyby/Lander - 4,940 kg - (September 9, 1978)
      Venera 11 landed on Venus on December 25, 1978, and returned data for 95 minutes. The imaging systems failed.
  • Venera 12 - USSR Venus Flyby/Lander - 4,940 kg - (September 14, 1978)
      Venera 12 landed on December 21, 1978 and returned data for 110 minutes. Electrical discharges, probably from lightning, were recorded.
  • Solar Maximum Mission - USA Solar Probe - (February 14, 1980)
      The Solar Maximum Mission (SMM) was designed to provide coordinated observations of solar activity, in particular solar flares, during a period of maximum solar activity. The spacecraft suffered an on-orbit failure. A repair mission on STS-41C in 1984, during which shuttle astronauts rendezvoused with SMM, was successful. SMM collected data until Nov. 24, 1989, and re-entered on Dec. 2, 1989.

  • Venera 13 - USSR Venus Flyby/Lander - 5,000 kg - (October 30, 1981)
      Venera 13 landed on Venus on March 1, 1982. It returned black and white, and the first color panoramic views of the Venusian surface. It also conducted soil analysis using an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer. The sample was determined to be leucite basalt, a rare rock type on the Earth.
  • Venera 14 - USSR Venus Flyby/Lander - 5,000 kg - (November 4, 1981)
      Venera 14 landed on Venus on March 5, 1982. It returned black and white, and color panoramic views of the Venusian surface. It also conducted soil analysis using an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer. The sample was determined to be tholeiitic basalt similar to that found at mid-ocean ridges on the Earth.
  • Venera 15 - USSR Venus Orbiter - 5,000 kg - (June 2, 1983)
      Venera 15 arrived at Venus on October 10, 1983. Its high-resolution imaging system produced images at 1-2 kilometers in resolution. Venera 15 and 16 produced a map of the northern hemisphere from the pole to 30°N. They found several hot spots, possibly caused from volcanic activity.
  • Venera 16 - USSR Venus Orbiter - 5,000 kg - (June 7, 1983)
      Venera 16 arrived at Venus on October 14, 1983. Its high-resolution imaging system produced images at 1-2 kilometers in resolution. Venera 15 and 16 produced a map of the northern hemisphere from the pole to 30°N. They found several hot spots, possibly caused from volcanic activity.
  • Vega 1 - USSR Venus/Comet Halley Flyby - 4,000 kg - (December 15, 1984)
      Vega 1 flew past Venus on June 11, 1985 on its way for a flyby with comet Halley. It dropped off a Venera style lander and a balloon to investigate the Venusian middle cloud layer. The lander's soil experiment failed. The balloon floated in the atmosphere for about 48 hours at an altitude of 54 kilometers. Between Vega 1 and 2, downward gusts of 1 meter/second were encountered and wind velocities of up to 240 kilometers/hour. The Comet Halley flyby took place on March 6, 1986. The Vega 1 probe is now in a solar orbit.
  • Vega 2 - USSR Venus/Comet Halley Probe - 4,000 kg - (December 21, 1984)
      Vega 2 flew past Venus on June 15, 1985 on its way for a flyby with comet Halley. It dropped off a Venera style lander and a balloon to investigate the Venusian middle cloud layer. The lander's soil experiment sampled anorthosite-troctolite which is found in the lunar highlands but is rare on Earth. The balloon floated in the atmosphere for about 48 hours at an altitude of 54 kilometers. Between Vega 1 and 2, downward gusts of 1 meter/second were encountered and wind velocities of up to 240 kilometers/hour. The Comet Halley flyby took place on March 9, 1986. The Vega 2 probe is now in a solar orbit.
  • Sakigake - Japan Comet Flyby - 141 kg - (January 7, 1985)
      Comet Halley flyby took place on March 1, 1986.
  • Giotto - Europe Comet Flyby - 512 kg - (July 2, 1985)
      Comet Halley flyby took place on March 13, 1986. After the Halley fly-by, Giotto was put into hibernation, and re-awoken in 1990. Using a close Earth flyby, its trajectory was changed to allow a close encounter with the Comet Grigg-Skjellerup on July 10th, 1992. The flyby distance was actually less than that at Halley (around 200 kilometers from the nucleus).
  • Suisei - Japan Comet Flyby - 141 kg - (August 18, 1985 - February 1991)
      Comet Halley flyby took place on March 8, 1986.

  • Phobos 1 - USSR Mars Orbiter/Lander - 5,000 kg - (July 7, 1988)
      Phobos 1 was sent to investigate the Martian moon Phobos. It was lost en route to Mars through a command error on September 2, 1988.
  • Phobos 2 - USSR Phobos Flyby/Lander - 5,000 kg - (July 12, 1988)
      Phobos 2 arrived at Mars and was inserted into orbit on January 30, 1989. The orbiter moved within 800 kilometers of Phobos and then failed. The lander never made it to Phobos.
  • Magellan - USA Venus Orbiter - 3,545 kg - (May 4, 1989 - 1994)
      Magellan was released into Earth's orbit from a space shuttle and then injected into a transer orbit to Venus by an upper stage. Its primary mission was to map Venus using synthetic aperture radar. The surface of Venus is obscured by thick clouds of carbon dioxide that makes the surface invisible to optical instruments. It arrived at Venus on August 10, 1990. Its radar imaging system was able to produce images at 300 meters/pixel resolution.
  • Galileo - USA & Europe Jupiter Orbiter/Atmospheric Probe - 2,222 kg - (October 18, 1989)
      Galileo was designed to study Jupiter's atmosphere, satellites and surrounding magnetosphere for 2 years. In order to get there, it used gravity assist techniques to pick up speed by flying past Venus on February 10, 1990. It then flew past the Earth & Moon on December 8, 1990 and then again on December 8, 1992. It has made encounters with asteroid 951 Gaspra on October 29, 1991, and asteroid 243 Ida on August 28, 1993.
  • Muses-A - Japan Lunar Orbiters - (January 24, 1990)
      This consisted of two small orbiters but failed to send back data from their orbit around the Moon. This was the first non USA or USSR probe to reach Moon.
  • Hubble Space Telescope - USA & Europe Telescope - (April 25, 1990)
      The Hubble Space Telescope has returned high-resolution images of Mars and the other outer planets of the Solar System. In July 1994, it photographed the collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter.
  • Ulysses - USA & Europe Solar Flyby - 370 kg - (October 6, 1990)
      The Ulysses spacecraft is an international project to study the poles of the Sun and interstellar space above and below the poles. It used Jupiter for a gravity assist to swing out of the ecliptic plane and onward to the poles of the Sun. The Jupiter flyby was on February 8, 1992. The first solar polar passage was in June 1994. The spacecraft passed the solar equator in February 1995 and passed over the north pole in June 1995.

  • Yohkoh - Japan/USA/England Solar Probe - (August 31, 1991)
      This spacecraft studied high-energy radiation from solar flares.
  • Mars Observer - USA Mars Orbiter - (September 25, 1992)
      Communication was lost with Mars Observer on August 21, 1993, just before it was to be inserted into orbit.
  • Clementine - USA Lunar Orbiter - (January 25, 1994)
      The official name for Clementine is "Deep Space Probe Science Experiment" (DSPSE). It was a Department of Defense program used to test new space technology. Clementine was a new design using lightweight structure and propellant systems. It spent 70 days (between February 6 and May 5, 1994) in lunar orbit. Its four cameras mapped the surface of the Moon at 125-250 meters/pixel resolution. Clementine also used a laser to gather altimeter data which will make it possible to generate the first lunar topographic map.
  • SOHO - Europe/USA Solar Probe - (December 12, 1995)
      The main scientific purpose of SOHO (Solar and Helispheric Observatory) is to study the Sun's internal structure, by observing velocity oscillations and radiance variations, and to look at the physical processes that form and heat the Sun's corona and that give rise to the solar wind, using imaging and spectroscopic diagnosis of the plasma in the Sun's outer regions coupled with in-situ measurements of the solar wind. SOHO will be put into a "halo orbit" around the L1 Lagrange point -- the point 1.5 million kilometers (932,000 miles) away from us at which the gravitational pull of the Earth balances that of the Sun.

  • NEAR - USA Asteroid Orbiter - 805 Kg - (February 17, 1996)
      The main scientific purpose of NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) is to orbit near Earth asteroid 433 Eros. The spacecraft is scheduled to study the asteroid for one year after entering orbit in February 1999. NEAR imaged Comet Hyakutake in March 1996 and will fly within 1,200 kilometers of asteroid 253 Mathilde on June 27, 1997. This is the first of NASA's Discovery missions.
  • Mars Global Surveyor - USA Mars Orbiter - (November 7, 1996)
      Mars Global Surveyor was inserted into an elliptical capture orbit on 12 September 1997. The spacecraft was initiated due to the loss of the Mars Observer and the basic design is after the Mars Observer. Mars Global Surveyor is designed to orbit Mars over a two year period and collect data on the surface morphology, topography, composition, gravity, atmospheric dynamics, and magnetic field. This data will be used to investigate the surface processes, geology, distribution of material, internal properties, evolution of the magnetic field, and the weather and climate of Mars.
  • Mars 96 - Russia Orbiter & Lander - (November 16, 1996)
      Mars '96 consisted of an orbiter, two landers, and two soil penetrators that were to reach the planet in September 1997. The rocket carring Mars 96 lifted off successfully, but as it entered orbit the rocket's fourth stage ignited prematurely and sent the probe into a wild tumble. It crashed into the ocean somewhere between the Chilean coast and Easter Island. The spacecraft sank, carrying with it 270 grams of plutonium-238.
  • Mars Pathfinder - USA Lander & Surface Rover - 264 kg (lander), 10.5 kg (rover) - (December 4, 1996 - September 27, 1997)
      Mars Pathfinder arrived at Mars on July 4, 1997 and impacted the surface at 16:57 UT (12:57 PM EDT) at a velocity of about 18 m/s (40 mph). It bounced about 15 meters (50 feet) into the air, bouncing another 15 times and rolling before coming to rest approximately 2.5 minutes after impact and about 1 km from the initial impact site. The landing site was in the Ares Vallis region is at 19.33 N, 33.55 W and was named the Sagan Memorial Station. A six-wheel rover, named Sojourner, rolled onto the Martian surface on July 6 at about 05:40 UT. Mars Pathfinder returned 2.6 billion bits of information, including more than 16,000 images from the lander and 550 images from the rover, as well as more than 15 chemical analyses of rocks and extensive data on winds and other weather factors. The last successful data transmission was on September 27, 1997, the 83rd day of the mission since landing on the surface. This is the second mission in NASA's low-cost Discovery series.
  • Cassini/Huygens - USA & Europe Saturn Orbiter/Titan Probe - (1997)
      The aim of the joint ESA/NASA Cassini mission will be the exploration of the whole Saturnian system - the planet itself, its atmosphere, rings and magnetosphere, and some of its moons (Titan and the icy satellites). Titan is especially interesting because its atmosphere is supposed to have properties very close to those of the terrestrial atmosphere in pre-biotic conditions. The Cassini mission will consist of the NASA-provided Saturn Orbiter coupled with ESA's Huygens probe, which will be dropped into Titan's atmosphere. During the three hours of its descent to the surface of Titan, and after touchdown, Huygens will study the characteristics of Titan's atmosphere and surface.
  • Lunar Prospector - 295 kg - USA Lunar Orbiter - (January 6, 1998)
      Lunar Prospector was launched on January 6, 1998 and arrived at the Moon on January 11, 1998. It is designed for a low polar orbit investigation of the Moon, including the mapping of surface composition and possible ice deposits, the measuring of magnetic and gravity fields, and the study of lunar outgassing events. This data could help scientists plan a potential lunar base and develop theories of the formation of the Moon, Earth and Solar System. Its mission is scheduled to last one to three years.
  • Nozomi (Planet B) - Japan Mars Orbiter - (3 July 1998)
      Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) launched this probe to study the Martian environment. This will be the first Japanese spacecraft to reach another planet. The spacecraft will encounter Mars in December of 2003.
  • Deep Space 1 (DS1) - USA Asteroid and Comet Flyby - (24 October 1998)
      The Deep Space 1 (DS1) is the first of a series of technology demonstration probes being developed by NASA's New Millennium Program. The spacecraft flew by the Mars-crossing near-Earth asteroid 9969 Braille in July, 1999 and will fly by comet Borrelly in September 2001.
  • Mars Climate Orbiter - USA Mars Orbiter - (11 December 1998)
      The Mars Climate Orbiter, also known as the Mars Surveyor '98 Orbiter, was a companion to the Mars Polar Lander. Its the mission was to study the Martian weather, climate, and water and carbon dioxide budget. It was destroyed when a navigation error caused it to miss its target altitude at Mars by 80 to 90 kilometers, instead of entering the martian atmosphere at an altitude of 57 kilometers during the orbit insertion maneuver.
  • Mars Polar Lander - USA Mars Lander - (3 January 1999)
      The Mars Polar Lander, also known as the Mars Surveyor '98 Lander, was a companion to the Mars Climate Orbiter. It was to touch down on the southern polar layered terrain, between 73 S and 76 S, less than 1000 km from the south pole, near the edge of the carbon dioxide ice cap in Mars' late southern spring. The last telemetry from the spacecraft was sent just prior to atmospheric entry on 3 December 1999. No further signals have been received from the lander, the cause of this loss of communication is not known.
  • Deep Space 2 (DS2) - USA Mars Penetrators - (3 January 1999)
      The Deep Space 2 (DS2) project is a New Millenium mission consisting of two probes which were to penetrate the surface of Mars near the south polar layered terrain and send back data on the sub-surface properties. On 3 December 1999 the probes were nearing Mars on a trajectory to enter the atmosphere and bring them to their intended landing site, but contact was never made with either probe and the mission was presumed lost.
  • Stardust - USA Comet Sample Return - (7 February 1999)
      Stardust is scheduled to rendezvous with comet P/Wild 2 in January 2004, study the object, and collect material for analysis on Earth. The return capsule successfully landed in the Utah desert on 15 January 2006.
  • IMAGE - USA Space Weather Satellite - (25 March 2000)
      IMAGE is the first weather satellite for space storms. It is designed to study the global response of the Earth's magnetosphere to changes in the solar wind.

  • 2001 Mars Odyssey - USA Mars Orbiter - (7 April 2001)
      The 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter will nominally orbit Mars for three years, with the objective of conducting a detailed mineralogical analysis of the planet's surface from orbit and measuring the radiation environment. The mission has as its primary science goals to gather data to help determine whether the environment on Mars was ever conducive to life, to characterize the climate and geology of Mars, and to study potential radiation hazards to possible future astronaut missions.
  • Genesis - USA Solar Wind Sample Return - 8 August 2001
      The primary objective of the Genesis mission is to collect samples of solar wind particles and return them to Earth for detailed analysis.
  • CONTOUR - USA Fly-by of three Comet Nuclei - 3 July 2002
      The Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) was to fly-by the comets Encke, Schwassmann-Wachmann-3, d'Arrest and possibly a fourth comet. The spacecraft was lost after numerous attempts were made to contact it.
  • Hayabusa (Muses-C) - Japan Asteroid Sample Return - 9 May 2003
      The primary scientific objective of the Muses-C mission is to collect a surface sample of material from an asteroid and return the sample to Earth for analysis.
  • Mars Express - ESA Mars Orbiter and Lander - 2 June 2003
  • Spirit (MER-A) - USA Mars Rover - 10 June 2003
  • Opportunity (MER-B) - USA Mars Rover - 7 July 2003
  • SMART 1 - ESA Lunar Orbiter - 27 September 2003
      The SMART-1 (Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology 1) is a lunar orbiter designed to test spacecraft technologies for future missions such as a solar-powered ion drive. It is to return data on the geology, morphology, topography, mineralogy, geochemistry, and exospheric environment of the Moon.
  • Rosetta - ESA Comet Obiter and Lander - 2 March 2004
      Rosetta is European Space Agency (ESA) Horizon 2000 cornerstone mission number 3 designed to rendezvous with Comet 67 P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, drop a probe on the surface, study the comet from orbit, and fly by at least one asteroid en route.
  • MESSENGER - USA Mercury Orbiter - 3 August 2004
      The Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission is designed to study the characteristics and environment of Mercury from orbit.
  • Deep Impact - USA Comet Rendezvous and Impact - 12 January 2005
      The goals of the Deep Impact mission were to rendezvous with comet 9P/Tempel 1 and launch a projectile into the comet nucleus.
  • Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter - USA Mars Orbiter - 12 August 2005
      Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reached Mars and went into orbit on Friday, 10 March 2006. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is designed to orbit Mars over a full martian year and gather data with six scientific instruments, including a high-resolution imager.
  • Venus Express - ESA Venus Obiter - 9 November 2005

  • New Horizons - USA Pluto/Charon and Kuipter Belt Flyby - 19 Jan 2006
      New Horizons is a mission designed to fly by Pluto and its moon Charon and transmit images and data back to Earth. It will then continue on into the Kuiper Belt where it will fly by a one or more Kuiper Belt Objects and return further data.
  • Mars Phoenix Lander - USA Mars Small Scout Lander - (4 Aug 2007-2 Nov 2008)
      The Phoenix Mars Lander is designed to study the surface and near-surface environment of a landing site in the high northern area of Mars. It successfully landed on Mars at 23:53 UT (7:53 p.m. EDT) on Sunday, 25 May 2008.
  • Kaguya (SELENE) - Japan Lunar Orbiter - (14 Sep 2007-10 Jun 2009)
      Kaguya is a lunar orbiter designed to take a global survey of the Moon, obtaining data on elemental abundance, mineralogical composition, topography, geology, gravity, and the lunar and solar-terrestrial plasma environments and to develop critical technologies for future lunar exploration.
  • Dawn - USA Asteroid Orbiter - (27 Sep 2007)
      Dawn is a mission designed to rendezvous and orbit the asteroids Vesta and Ceres. The scientific objectives are to characterize the asteroids' internal structure, density, shape, size, composition and mass and to return data on surface morphology, cratering, and magnetism.
  • Chang'e 1 - CAST (China) Lunar Orbiter - (24 Oct 2007)
      The Chang'e 1 orbiter is the first of a planned series of Chinese missions to the Moon.
  • Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter - USA Lunar Orbiter - 18 June 2009
      The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a Moon orbiting mission launched in June 2009. The first mission of NASA's Robotic Lunar Exploration Program, it is designed to map the surface of the Moon and characterize future landing sites in terms of terrain roughness, usable resources, and radiation environment.

  • Mars Science Laboratory - USA Mars Rover - 26 November 2011
      The Mars Science Laboratory, nicknamed Curiosity, is a large rover with the objective of exploring the martian environment as a former or current habitat for life.

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