Space probes

A space probe is a scientific space exploration mission in which a spacecraft leaves Earth and explores space. It may approach the Moon; enter interplanetary space; flyby, orbit or land on other planetary bodies; or approach interstellar space. Space probes are a form of robotic spacecraft.

See list of probes by operational status for a list of active probes; the space agencies of the USSR (now Russia and Ukraine), the United States, the European Union, Japan, China and India have in the aggregate launched probes to several planets and moons of the solar system as well as to a number of asteroids and comets.

Interplanetary trajectories

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.[1]

Some notable probes

Luna 16

First unmanned robotic sample return probe from the Moon.

Lunokhod 1

First rover on Moon. It landed on the Moon in 1970.

Mariner 10

First probe to Mercury.

Venera 3

Probe from the Soviet Union was the first man-made spacecraft to impact on another planet (Venus).

Venera 7

The Venera 7 probe was the first man-made spacecraft to successfully soft landing on another planet (Venus) and to transmit data from there back to Earth.

Mariner 9

Upon its arrival at Mars on November 13, 1971, Mariner 9 became the first space probe to maintain orbit around another planet.[2]


Mars 3

First soft landing on Mars (between 1960 and 1973).

Sojourner

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).[3][4] JPL continued to attempt to regain contact until May 24, 2011, when NASA announced that efforts to communicate with the unresponsive rover had ended.[5][6][7] 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.[8] 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.

Halley Armada

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).

ICE

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.

Vega

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.

Sakigake

This Japanese probe was the first non-US, non-Soviet interplanetary probe.

Suisei

A second Japanese probe, it made ultraviolet wavelength observations of the comet.

Giotto

The first space probe to penetrate a comet's coma and take close-up images of its nucleus.

Genesis

First solar wind sample return probe from sun-earth L1.

Stardust

First sample return probe from comet tail.

NEAR Shoemaker

First probe to asteroid with landing.

Hayabusa

First sample return probe from asteroid.

Rosetta

The Rosetta space probe has flown by two asteroids and is aiming to rendezvous and explore comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It is scheduled to arrive at the comet in 2014.[9]

Pioneer 10

First probe to Jupiter.

Pioneer 11

First probe to flyby two planets and first probe to Saturn.

Voyager 1

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.[10] As of September 12, 2013, Voyager 1 is about 12 billion miles from the Sun.[11]

On August 25, 2012, Voyager 1 became the first human made object to enter interstellar space.[12] 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

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.

Huygens

First landing on Titan on January 14th 2005.

New Horizons

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.

Dawn

First spacecraft to visit and orbit a protoplanet (4 Vesta), entering orbit on July 16, 2011.[13][14]

Juno

First probe to Jupiter without atomic battery, launched August 8, 2011.

Chang'e 2

First probe to orbit the Moon, visit Sun-Earth L2 Langrangian point and make a flyby of asteroid 4179 Toutatis.

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.[15][16]

Probe imagers

Examples of space probe imaging telescope/cameras (focused on visible spectrum).

Name Aperture
cm (in.)
Type Where When
Mars Reconnaissance OrbiterHiRISE 50 cm (19.7″) R/C Mars orbit 2005
Mars Global SurveyorMOC[17] 35 cm (13.8″) R/C Mars orbit 1996–2006
New HorizonsLORRI 20.8 cm (8.2″) R/C Space (33+ AU from Earth) 2006
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter LROC-NAC[18] 19.5 cm (7.68″) Reflector Lunar orbit 2009
CassiniISS-NAC[19] 19 cm (7.5″) Reflector Saturn orbit 2004
Galileo - Solid State Imager[20] 17.65 cm (6.95″) Reflector Jupiter 1989-2003
Voyager 1/2, ISS-NAC[21] 17.6 cm (6.92″) Catadioptric Space 1977
Mariner 10 - TV Photo Experiment (x2)[22] 15 cm (5.9″) Reflector Space 1973-1975
Deep Space 1MICAS[23] 10 cm ( 3.94″) Reflector Solar orbit 1998-2001
Voyager 1/2, ISS-WAC[21] 6 cm (2.36″) Lens Space 1977
CassiniISS-WAC[19] 5.7 cm (2.2″) Lens Saturn orbit 2004
MESSENGER MDIS-WAC[24] 3 cm (1.18″) Lens Mercury orbit 2004
MESSENGER MDIS-NAC[24] 2.5 cm (0.98″) R/C Mercury orbit 2004
Dawn Framing Camera (FC1/FC2)[25] 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.

Gallery

See also

Further reading

  • Centaur orbiter mission)
  • (2007) - NASA Glenn Research Center

References

External links

  • (2010)

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