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September 18, 2013

Spacecraft missions to outer planets, minor planets or comets

Filed under: science — ckrao @ 11:50 am

After recently hearing news about Voyager 1 being the first human-made object to leave our solar system, I looked up other spacecraft that have visited the outer planets, minor planets (e.g. asteroids) and comets.

Outer Planets

 Spacecraft  Launch Date  Agency  Remarks
Pioneer 10 3-Mar-72 NASA / ARC flyby of Jupiter in Dec 1973, lost contact in Jan 2003 when 12b km from earth
Pioneer 11 6-Apr-73  NASA /ARC  flyby of Jupiter in Dec 1974, Saturn in May 1979, lost contact in 1995
Voyager 2 20-Aug-77  NASA / JPL flyby of all outer planets, the only one to fly by Uranus and Neptune
Voyager 1 5-Sep-77  NASA / JPL flyby of Jupiter in Sep 1977, Saturn in Mar 1979, now 19b km from earth
Galileo 18-Oct-89 NASA flyby of Venus, Earth, asteroids Gasra and Ida (both incidental) before detailed study of Jupiter and its moons, probe dropped into its atmosphere
Ulysses 6-Oct-90 NASA / ESA flyby of Jupiter (Feb 1992), orbiting sun, measuring solar wind and gamma ray bursts
Cassini–Huygens 15-Oct-97 NASA/ESA flyby of Jupiter & Saturn, Huygens deployed from Cassini, landed on Saturn’s moon Titan in Jan 2005
New Horizons 19-Jan-06  NASA expected to fly by Pluto in July 2015
Juno 5-Aug-11  NASA expected to reach Jupiter in Aug 2016

Minor Planets and comets (other than Halley)

 Spacecraft  Launch Date  Agency  Remarks
Dawn 27-Sep-07 NASA orbited Vesta July ’11-Sep ’12, expected to reach Ceres in Feb ’15
Hayabusa 9-May-03 JAXA visited asteroid Itokawa bringing back to earth tiny grains of asteroidal material in June 2010
NEAR Shoemaker 17-Feb-96 NASA studied near-earth asteroid Eros, touched down in Feb 2001
Deep Space 1 24-Oct-98 NASA/JPL flybys of asteroid Braille and Comet Borelly
Stardust 7-Feb-99 NASA/JPL returned dust samples from Comet Wild 2, also intercepted comet Tempel 1 in Feb 2011
Deep Impact 12-Jan-05 NASA/JPL impactor collided with nucleus of comet Tempel in July 2005, extended mission EPOXI flew by Comet 103P/Hartley, now on its way to asteroid 2002 GT
Rosetta 2-Mar-04 ESA flybys of asteroids Steins and Lutetia in 2008, 2010; expected to reach comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in mid 2014 deploying the lander Philae
Chang’e-2 1-Oct-10 CNSA flew by asteroid 4179 Toutatis in Dec 2012 after orbiting moon
International Cometary Explorer (ICE) 12-Aug-78 NASA/ESA first spacecraft to pass through comet tail (Comet Giacobini-Zinner)

Halley’s Comet (during its most recent near-earth encounter in 1985-6)

 Spacecraft  Launch date  Agency  Remarks
Giotto 2-Jul-85 ESA passed within 600km of Halley’s comet, then flew by Comet Grigg-Skjellerup in Jul 1992
Vega 1 15-Dec-84 USSR flyby of Venus (descent craft surfaced on Venus) and Halley’s Comet (within 9,000km Mar ’86)
Vega 2 21-Dec-84 USSR flyby of Venus (descent craft surfaced on Venus) and Halley’s Comet (Mar ’86)
Suisei 18-Aug-85 ISAS (now part of JAXA) within 151,000km of Comet Halley in Mar ’86
Sakigake 7-Jan-85 ISAS (now part of JAXA) within 7m km of Comet Halley

Further reading:


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