. List of Active Spacecrafts Missions... Last Update: February 2018

 

Hubble: Galaxies Across Space and Time

Curiosity at Martian Scenic Overlook

 
 
 

 
 

LIST OF ACTIVE SPACECRAFTS MISSIONS

OSIRIS-REx

The Orbiter Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security-Regolith Explorer

After a Earth Flyby in Sept. 2017, the Spacecraft is en route to its primary destination: Asteroid Bennu, formerly 1999 RQ36. Its arrival is supposed to be in August 2018.

The mission goal is to bring at least a 2.1-ounce sample back to Earth for study. The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.

Bennu is a B-type asteroid with a ~500 meter diameter. It completes an orbit around the Sun every 436.604 days (1.2 years) and every 6 years comes very close to Earth, within 0.002 AU. These close encounters give Bennu a high probability of impacting Earth in the late 22nd century. Bennu’s size, primitive composition, and potentially hazardous orbit make it one of the most fascinating and accessible NEOs … and the ideal OSIRIS-REx target asteroid.

Hubble

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, in destination of Our Solar System and Beyond

Hubble was designed to provide clear and deep views of distant galaxies, stars and most of the planets in our solar system. Hubble's domain extends from the ultraviolet, through the visible, and to the near-infrared.

Lasting far beyond its planned lifetime, Hubble has had a major impact in every area of astronomy, from the solar system to objects at the edge of the universe. Results from the orbiting telescope are the backbone of more than 15,000 technical papers. It also, of course, continues to dazzle with stunning pictures of stars, galaxies and planets. The Hubble Deep Field image showing thousands of galaxies in a tiny speck of sky is one of the most memorable images in human history.

The orbiting telescope provided the first evidence about that, our Universe is expanding more quickly than it has in the past. It made a more precise estimate of the age of universe, at almost 13 to 14 billion years old. And it helped scientists uncover the recipe for planets, reinforcing an assumption that planets are common in our universe and aiding in the search for Earth-like worlds.

Hubble is in its Extended Mission phase.

LRO

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched on June 18, 2009

The NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was sent to the Moon to make high-resolution maps of the composition of the lunar surface and seek out potential sources of water-ice that may exist in the bottom of dark polar craters. The spacecraft is also seeking potential landing sites and resources for future human exploration of the Moon. LRO was launched with the LCROSS lunar impact mission.

One of the mission's first surprising discoveries was the super-cold temperatures in the permanently shadowed craters of the Moon's south polar region. The temperatures, -397 degrees Fahrenheit (-238 degrees Celsius), are among the coldest surface temperatures measured in the solar system, colder even than Pluto. In fact, LRO has founded indications that permanently shadowed and nearby regions may harbor water and hydrogen. 

During its mission, the spacecraft made also new observations of Apollo landing sites, provided detailed information about the surface, and discovered the first evidence of thrust faults, indicating that the Moon has recently contracted and may still be shrinking.

LRO also took high resolution pictures of the Lunokhod 1 rover that had been lost for almost 40 years. Accurate position data enabled researchers on Earth to bounce laser signals off the rover's retro-reflector for the first time ever. It now provides important new information about the position and motion of the Moon.

This U.S. spacecraft has entered in its Extended Mission.

DAWN

Dawn was launched on September 27, 2007, in directions of Vesta, Ceres, Asteroids and Dwarf Planets

Dawn arrival at Vesta in July 16, 2011 and, at Ceres in March 6, 2015.

Dawn is designed to study the conditions and processes of the solar system's earliest epoch by investigating in detail two of the largest protoplanets remaining intact since their formations. The orbiter targeted the giant asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, two main asteroid belt worlds that followed very differently evolutionary paths.

CERES

VESTA

Dawn comprehensively mapped Vesta, revealing an exotic and diverse protoplanet. The findings are helping scientists unlock some of the secrets of how the solar system, including our own Earth, was formed. The first mission to explore a dwarf planet, Dawn spacecraft entered into its first science orbit at Ceres on Apr. 23, 2015.

Now, the U.S. spacecraft has entered in its Extended Mission.

MRO

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched on August 12, 2005

Now in its fourth mission extension after a two-year prime mission, the orbiter and its suite of powerful instruments are investigating seasonal and longer-term changes on the surface of Mars. 

Until now, it has revealed that Mars is a world more dynamic and diverse than was previously realized. It has gathered data on warm-season flows that are the strongest evidence so far for liquid water on Mars today. Also, it has increased more than tenfold the number of places surveyed close-up, returned more data about Mars every week than the weekly total from all six other active Mars missions, and found evidence of diverse watery environments on early Mars. For future missions, it provided reconnaissance on potential landing sites.

New Horizons is a Flyby spacecraft launched on January 19, 2006

In July 14, 2015, after a space travel of more than nine years and three billion miles, New Horizons becoming the fastest spacecraft ever launched to reach its primary target, Pluto.

Sending in space by the Rocket’s Atlas V-551 in January 2006, the spacecraft of 478 kg at launch has completed the initial exploration of the classical solar system while opening the door to the mysterious dwarf planets and planetary building blocks in the Kuiper Belt.

Make the first close-up study of Pluto and its moons and other icy worlds in the distant Kuiper Belt. The spacecraft has seven scientific instruments to study the atmospheres, surfaces, interiors and intriguing environments of Pluto and its distant neighbors.

The successful flyby revealed Pluto as a dynamic, complex world. The science results were beamed back to Earth over 16 months. New Horizons is now en route to a second science target—(486958) 2014 MU69.

Mission Extension recommended by Senior Review.

MAVEN

The Mars Atmospheric and Volatile EvolutioN

MAVEN spacecraft at Mars

Launched November 18, 2013 and entered in Mars orbit Insertion in September 21, 2014, the goals of the mission is to give insight into the history of Mars' atmosphere and climate, liquid water and planetary habitability by determining how volatiles from the Martian atmosphere have escaped into space over time.

To date, the U.S. spacecraft has carried out ten months of observations during the primary mission, has completed four deep-dip campaigns into the Martian atmosphere and, has survived an encounter with Comet Siding Spring.

The Planetary Mission Senior Review (PMSR) recommended the pursuit of that mission

The Mars Express orbiter was launched on June 2, 2003

Mars Express studied the Martian atmosphere and climate, the planet's structure, its mineralogy and its geology, and searched for traces of water from orbit.

The spacecraft’s high-resolution camera, which has sent back thousands of dramatic, 3-D views of the Martian surface. One instrument has discovered hydrated minerals that form only in the presence of liquid water, providing confirmation that Mars was once much wetter than it is today. The first radar sounder ever to orbit another planet has detected subsurface layers of water ice. Another instrument has detected enough water ice in the polar caps to create a global ocean 11 meters deep, and revealed vast plains of permafrost around the South Pole.

Mars Express found the highest clouds ever seen above any planetary surface at 62 miles. The mission found indications of the possible presence of methane, which on Earth is attributed to active volcanism and biochemical processes.

Its highly elliptical orbit has enabled the spacecraft to look beyond Mars, in order to survey its two tiny moons, particularly the innermost satellite Phobos, which has been studied in unprecedented detail.

During its lifetime it has acted as a communication relay between Earth and various NASA spacecraft, including the Phoenix lander and several rovers on the surface.

This European spacecraft is entered in its Extended Mission. Mars Express also carried Britain’s Beagle 2 lander.

Hayabusa-2 have a meeting with Asteroid Ryugu (1999 JU3) in June 2018

Launching in 2014, the Japan's 600 kg Spacecraft will study the Asteroid 1999 JU3 from multiple angles. To do it, it will using remote-sensing instruments, the MASCOT's lander and the MINERVA-2's rover .

 

The primary scientific objective of the mission is to collect at least a surface sample of materials and return it to Earth in a capsule for analysis. Also, the mission must enhance the reliability of asteroid exploration technologies.

Asteroid 1999 JU3 is a 900 m C-type, the most ancient object in our solar system. It rotate once in 7.6 hours and have an estimated surface’s albedo of about 0.06. This C-type asteroid includes clay, silicate rocks, organic matter, water and are dark in appearance.

The Venus Climate Orbiter mission (PLANET-C), or "AKATSUKI"

AKATSUKI has been launched the May 21, 2010 and making its successful Orbit Insertion in December 7, 2015. This is Japan's first successful mission to explore another planet.

Its goals are to study weather patterns on Venus, confirm the presence of lightning in thick clouds and search for signs of active volcanism.

WIND

The orbiter is a spin stabilized spacecraft launched on November 1, 1994

Its destination was the LaGrange Point No. 1 in Our Solar System.

After several orbits through the magnetosphere, Wind was placed in a halo orbit around the L-1 Lagrange point -- more than 200 Re upstream of Earth -- in early 2004, to observe the unperturbed solar wind impacting the magnetosphere of Earth.

Wind, together with Geotail, Polar, SoHO and Cluster, constitute a cooperative scientific satellite project designated by the International Solar Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) program. The main goal is to improve our understanding of the physics of solar terrestrial relations.

The primary science objectives of the Wind mission are to provide a complete plasma, energetic particle and magnetic field for magnetospheric and ionospheric studies. Also, investigate basic plasma processes occurring in the near-Earth solar wind and providing a ecliptic plane observations for inner and outer heliosphere missions, at 1 AU.

The orbiter is in its Extended Mission.

ARTEMIS is the first spacecraft mission ever to orbit the moon's Lagrangian points

These points on either side of the moon are the place where the moon and Earth's gravity balance perfectly. The U.S. spacecraft has been launched in February 17, 2007 and are in an Extended Mission. 

ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Re-connection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon's Interaction with the Sun) is made up of two probes P1 and P2. They were originally members of the successful mission THEMIS in Earth orbit studying Earth's aurora, but were redirected to the moon in an effort to save the two probes from losing power in Earth's shade. Through this new mission scientists look to learn more about the Earth-moon Lagrange points, the solar wind, the Moon's plasma wake and how the Earth's magneto-tail and the moon's own weak magnetism interact with the solar wind.

Both spacecraft arrived in lunar orbit in 2011. ARTEMIS is the first mission ever to orbit the moon's Lagrangian points - points on either side of the moon where the moon and Earth's gravity balance perfectly. It is also was the first to move from the Lagrangian to lunar orbit. Since arrival, the twin orbiters have contributed to lunar and Earth science as well as helping study the solar wind.

The U.S. spacecraft is in its Extended Mission phase.

ACE

The Advanced Composition Explorer orbiter was launched on August 25, 1997

Its destination is the Lagrange Point no.1 in Our Solar System.

ACE collects and analyzes particles of solar, interplanetary, interstellar and galactic origins, spanning the energy range from solar-wind ions to galactic cosmic rays traveling at nearly the speed of light. Studying these particles contributes to our understanding of the sun and its interaction with Earth, and of the formation and evolution of the solar system.

ACE continues to provide space weather reports and warnings of geomagnetic storms that can disrupt communications on Earth and harm astronauts in space.

The spacecraft has operated far beyond its expected lifetime.

Mars Science Laboratory

The Mars Curiosity Rover was launched on November 26, 2011

The Mars Science Laboratory, which carrying the Curiosity Rover, make its landing on Mars on August 6, 2012. The Rover is building on the proved technological of the two geologists rover that arrived at Mars in January, 2004.

The mission's goals are to testing new landing technologies and seek signs of conditions that could have once supported life on planet.

After its landing on the surface, the rover began immediately sending back stunning images and sciences data. The results has confirmed that, the ancient Mars could have the right chemistry to be a suitable home for life and some evidence of an ancient stream-bed where water once flowed knee-deep.

NASA has measured high levels of radiation during the spacecraft trip to Mars. That means, for future human missions, that could pose health risks to astronauts doing the same space travel.

Status: Extended Mission

 The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter was launched in October 2016

The main objectives of the European Space Agency's ExoMars spacecraft are to search for evidence of methane and other trace of atmospheric gases. These gases could be signatures of active geological process on the planet. ExoMars serve also as communications relay for future missions.

The European spacecraft will make its Primary Science Operation between March 2018 and December 2019.

MOM 

 Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) was launched on November 5, 2013

 

The India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)—or Mangalyaan (Hindi for "Mars Craft")—is the country's first mission to the Red Planet. Its Mars Orbit insertion has been done in Sept. 23, 2014.

The mission aims to test key technologies for interplanetary exploration and to use its five science instruments to study the Martian surface and atmosphere from orbit. The primary science mission is underway.

The U.S. orbiter JUNO was launched on August 5, 2011, in the direction of Jupiter

After a Earth Flyby Gravity Assist in October 1, 2013, Juno has reached Jupiter in July 4, 2016. 

The main goals are to Reveal the story of the formation and evolution of Jupiter. How did Jupiter form? Does it have a solid core? How is its vast magnetic field generated?

Early science results from NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter portray the largest planet in our solar system as a complex, gigantic, turbulent world, with Earth-sized polar cyclones, plunging storm systems that travel deep into the heart of the gas giant, and a mammoth, lumpy magnetic field that may indicate it was generated closer to the planet's surface than previously thought.

WISE/NEOWISE

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer was launched on December 14, 2009

WISE scanned the entire celestial sky in infrared light about 1.5 times. It captured more than 2.7 million images of objects in space, ranging from faraway galaxies to asteroids and comets close to Earth. After completing its prime science mission, the spacecraft ran out of the frozen coolant that keeps its instrumentation cold.

However, two of its four infrared cameras remained operational. These two channels were still useful for asteroid hunting, so NASA extended the NEOWISE portion of the WISE mission by four months, with the primary purpose of hunting for more asteroids and comets, and to finish one complete scan of the main asteroid belt. The spacecraft was then placed in hibernation in case another science opportunity arose.

Above, a four-band color composite image showing a region in the constellation Carina. Credit: WISE Science Data Center - Caltech

Beginning in September 2013, WISE will be revived with the goal of discovering and characterizing near-Earth objects (NEOs). NASA anticipates WISE will use its 40-cm (16-inch) telescope and infrared cameras to discover about 150 previously unknown NEOs and characterize the size, albedo and thermal properties of about 2,000 others.

The U.S. Orbiter spacecraft entered in its Extended Mission.

IBEX

The Orbiter Interstellar Boundary Explorer was launched on October 19, 2008

IBEX is designed to detect the edge of our solar system. / Status: Extended Mission in Progress.

Operating from Earth orbit, the spacecraft uses neutral atom images to detect particles from the termination shock at the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space.

IBEX made the first all-sky maps of the heliosphere. One of the immediate results was a surprise: the maps are bisected by a bright, winding ribbon of unknown origin. 

Extended Mission

The Mars Odyssey orbiter was launched on April 7, 2001

The U.S. spacecraft has collected more than 130,000 images and continues to send information to Earth about Martian geology, climate, and mineralogy.  In fact, Odyssey continues also searching water and evidence of life-sustaining environments.

Odyssey has also served as a communication relay for landers such as the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

The U.S. spacecraft is in its Extended Mission phase.