A space probe is an unmanned spacecraft that leaves Earth orbit and explores space. It may approach the Moon; enter interplanetary space; fly by, orbit or land on other planetary bodies; or approach interstellar space. Space probes are a form of robotic spacecraft.
- Interplanetary trajectories 1
Some notable probes 2
- Luna 9 2.1
- Luna 16 2.2
- Lunokhod 1 2.3
- Mariner 10 2.4
- Venera 4 2.5
- Venera 7 2.6
- Mariner 9 2.7
- Mars 3 2.8
- Sojourner 2.9
- Spirit and Opportunity 2.10
Halley Armada 2.11
- ICE 2.11.1
- Vega 2.11.2
- Sakigake 2.11.3
- Suisei 2.11.4
- Giotto 2.11.5
- Genesis 2.12
- Stardust 2.13
- NEAR Shoemaker 2.14
- Hayabusa 2.15
- Rosetta 2.16
- Pioneer 10 2.17
- Pioneer 11 2.18
- Voyager 1 2.19
- Voyager 2 2.20
- Huygens 2.21
- New Horizons 2.22
- Dawn 2.23
- Juno 2.24
- Chang'e 2 2.25
- Beyond the Solar System 2.26
- Probe imagers 3
- Gallery 4
- See also 5
- References 6
- Sources 7
- Further reading 8
- External links 9
Once a probe has left the vicinity of Earth, its trajectory will likely take it along an orbit around the Sun similar to the Earth's orbit. To reach another planet, the simplest practical method is a Hohmann transfer orbit. More complex techniques, such as gravitational slingshots, can be more fuel-efficient, though they may require the probe to spend more time in transit. Some high Delta-V missions (such as those with high inclination changes) can only be performed, within the limits of modern propulsion, using gravitational slingshots. A technique using very little propulsion, but requiring a considerable amount of time, is to follow a trajectory on the Interplanetary Transport Network.
Some notable probes
First man-made object to soft land on the Moon, or any other extra terrestrial surface.
First unmanned robotic sample return probe from the Moon.
First rover on Moon. It was sent to the Moon on November 10, 1970.
First probe to Mercury.
First successful in-place analysis of another planet. It may have also been the first space probe to impact the surface of another planet, although it is unclear whether it reached Venus's surface.
Upon its arrival at Mars on November 13, 1971, Mariner 9 became the first space probe to maintain orbit around another planet.
First soft landing on Mars (between 1960 and 1973). Although, the spacecraft failed shortly after landing.
First successful rover on Mars.
Spirit and Opportunity
The Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity surface and geology, and searched for clues to past water activity on Mars. They were each launched in 2003 and landed in 2004. Communication with Spirit stopped on sol 2210 (March 22, 2010). JPL continued to attempt to regain contact until May 24, 2011, when NASA announced that efforts to communicate with the unresponsive rover had ended. Opportunity arrived at Endeavour crater on 9 August 2011, at a landmark called Spirit Point named after its rover twin, after traversing 13 miles from Victoria crater, over a three-year period. As of January 16, 2012, Opportunity has lasted for more than eight years on Mars — although the rovers were intended to last only three months.
The first dedicated missions to a comet; in this case, to Halley's Comet during its 1985-86 journey through the inner solar system. It was also the first massive international coordination of space probes on an interplanetary mission, with probes specifically launched by the Soviet (now Russian) Space Agency, European Space Agency and Japan's ISAS (now integrated with NASDA to JAXA).
Original a solar observatory in the International Sun-Earth Explorer series, it was sent into solar orbit to make the first close observations of a comet, Comet Giacobini-Zinner, in 1985 as a prelude to studies of Halley's Comet.
Two Russian/French spacecraft. They dropped landers and balloons (first weather ballons deployed on another planet) at Venus before their rendezvous with Halley's Comet.
This Japanese probe was the first non-US, non-Soviet interplanetary probe.
A second Japanese probe, it made ultraviolet wavelength observations of the comet.
The first space probe to penetrate a comet's coma and take close-up images of its nucleus.
First solar wind sample return probe from sun-earth L1.
First sample return probe from a comet tail.
First probe to land on an asteroid.
First sample return probe to launch from an asteroid.
First probe to Jupiter.
First probe to fly by two planets and first probe to Saturn. (Communications were lost due to power constraints and vast distance.)
Voyager 1 is a 733-kilogram probe launched September 5, 1977. It is currently still operational, making it the longest-lasting mission of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It visited Jupiter and Saturn and was the first probe to provide detailed images of the moons of these planets.
Voyager 1 is the farthest human-made object from Earth, traveling away from both the Earth and the Sun at a relatively faster speed than any other probe. As of September 12, 2013, Voyager 1 is about 12 billion miles from the Sun.
On August 25, 2012, Voyager 1 became the first human made object to enter interstellar space. Voyager 1 has not had a functioning plasma sensor since 1980, but a solar flare in 2012 allowed scientists from NASA to measure vibrations of the plasma surrounding the craft. The vibrations allowed scientists to measure the plasma to be much denser than measurements taken in the far layers of our heliosphere, thus concluding the craft had broken beyond the heliopause.
Voyager 2 was the first probe to complete the Planetary Grand Tour of the gas giants, and the first probe to visit Uranus and Neptune.Voyager 2 is the second-farthest human-made object from Earth, next to Voyager 1 at a distance of 101.2 AU as of July 11, 2013.
First landing on Titan on January 14, 2005.
First probe to be launched to Pluto. Launched on 19 January 2006 with an estimated arrival date at the Pluto–Charon system of 14 July 2015.
First probe to Jupiter without atomic battery, launched August 8, 2011.
Beyond the Solar System
Along with Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, and its sister space probe Voyager 2, Voyager 1 is now an interstellar probe. Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have both achieved solar escape velocity, meaning that their trajectories will not return them to the solar system.
Examples of space probe imaging telescope/cameras (focused on visible spectrum).
|Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter—HiRISE||50 cm (19.7″)||R/C||Mars orbit||2005|
|Mars Global Surveyor—MOC||35 cm (13.8″)||R/C||Mars orbit||1996–2006|
|New Horizons—LORRI||20.8 cm (8.2″)||R/C||Space (33+ AU from Earth)||2006|
|Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter LROC-NAC||19.5 cm (7.68″)||Reflector||Lunar orbit||2009|
|Cassini—ISS-NAC||19 cm (7.5″)||Reflector||Saturn orbit||2004|
|Galileo - Solid State Imager||17.65 cm (6.95″)||Reflector||Jupiter||1989-2003|
|Voyager 1/2, ISS-NAC||17.6 cm (6.92″)||Catadioptric||Space||1977|
|Mariner 10 - TV Photo Experiment (x2)||15 cm (5.9″)||Reflector||Space||1973-1975|
|Deep Space 1—MICAS||10 cm ( 3.94″)||Reflector||Solar orbit||1998-2001|
|Voyager 1/2, ISS-WAC||6 cm (2.36″)||Lens||Space||1977|
|Cassini—ISS-WAC||5.7 cm (2.2″)||Lens||Saturn orbit||2004|
|MESSENGER MDIS-WAC||3 cm (1.18″)||Lens||Mercury orbit||2004|
|MESSENGER MDIS-NAC||2.5 cm (0.98″)||R/C||Mercury orbit||2004|
|Dawn Framing Camera (FC1/FC2)||2 cm (0.8″)||Lens||Asteroid belt||2007|
Image forming systems on space probes typically have a multitude of specifications, but aperture can be useful because it constrains the best diffraction limit and light gathering area.
Artist's concept of New horizons
Artist's concept of Cassini in Saturn's Orbit
Artist depiction of Stardust during the 'burn-to-depletion' phase
Artist depiction of Mars Global Surveyor
Titan4b on Launch pad
- Space capsule
- Viking program 1975-1982
- Pioneer 10 1972-2003
- Mariner 10 1973-1975
- Space exploration
- Robotic spacecraft
- U.S. space exploration history on U.S. stamps
- Interstellar probe
- Unmanned spacecraft
- Interplanetary contamination
- List of Solar System probes
- National Geographic: Space probes
- Next exit 0.5 Million Kilometers
- Sojourner (rover)
- September 30 – October 05, 2010 Spirit Remains Silent at Troy NASA. 2010-10-05.
- A.J.S. Rayl Mars Exploration Rovers Update Planetary Society 30 November 2010
- Webster, Guy (25 May 2011). "NASA's Spirit Rover Completes Mission on Mars".
- "NASA Concludes Attempts to Contact Mars Rover Spirit". NASA. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
- Chang, Kenneth (May 24, 2011). "NASA to Abandon Mars Spirit Rover". New York Times.
- NASA Mars Rover Arrives at New Site on Martian Surface Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 10 August 2011.
- "Where Comets Emit Dust: Scientists Identify the Active Regions on the Surface of Comets" - ScienceDaily (Apr. 29, 2010)
- "NASA Voyager 1 Encounters New Region in Deep Space". NASA.
- Voyager - Mission - Interstellar Mission
- NASA Spacecraft Embarks on Historic Journey Into Interstellar Space
- "NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Hits Snag on Trip to 2 Asteroids". Space.com. August 15, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- "Dawn Gets Extra Time to Explore Vesta".
- "Voyager-The Interstellar Mission: Fast Facts". Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- "Voyager-The Interstellar Mission". Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- Mars Global Surveyor
- eoportal - LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) - LROC
- Cassini Solstice Mission: ISS
- Basics of Spaceflight (Ch. 12) - NASA/JPL
- astronautix - voyager
- NASA/NSSDC - Mariner 10 - Television Photography
- NASA DS1
- Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) - NASA/NSSDC
- Sierks, et al. - The Dawn Framing Camera: A Telescope En Route to the Asteroid Belt - MPS/DLR/IDA
- Deep Space: The NASA Mission Reports. edited by Robert Godwin (2005). ISBN 1-894959-15-9
- McNutt, et al. - Radioisotope Electric Propulsion (2006) - NASA Glenn Research Center (includes Centaur orbiter mission)
- Scott W. Benson - Solar Power for Outer Planets Study (2007) - NASA Glenn Research Center