Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives

Space FAQ 09/13 - Upcoming Planetary Probes

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Airports ]
Archive-name: space/new_probes
Last-modified: $Date: 96/09/17 15:40:30 $

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
    Compilation copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 by Jonathan P. Leech. This
    document may be redistributed in its complete and unmodified form. Other
    use requires written permission of the author.


    Information on upcoming or currently active missions not mentioned below
    would be welcome. Sources: NASA fact sheets, Cassini Mission Design
    team, ISAS/NASDA launch schedules, press kits, agency Web pages.

    Information on past, present, and future missions may be found on the
    Web starting at (All missions) (ESA missions) (NASA missions) (JPL missions) (ISAS missions)

    ADEOS - Advanced Earth Observing Satellite (NASDA). Launched August 16,
    1996 on an H-II booster. ADEOS will study the Earth's surface and
    atmosphere to acquire data on worldwide environmental changes. Includes
    a JPL-developed instrument to measure ocean surface winds. See

    ASCA (ASTRO-D) - Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics
    (ISAS). ASCA is an X-ray astronomy satellite launched into Earth orbit
    on 2/20/93. Equipped with large-area wide-wavelength (1-20 Angstrom)
    X-ray telescope, X-ray CCD cameras, and imaging gas scintillation
    proportional counters.

    CASSINI/HUYGENS - Saturn orbiter and Titan atmosphere probe. A joint
    NASA/ESA project designed to accomplish an exploration of the Saturnian
    system with its Cassini Saturn Orbiter and Huygens Titan Probe. Cassini
    is scheduled for launch aboard a Titan IV/Centaur in October of 1997.
    After gravity assists of Venus, Earth and Jupiter in a VVEJGA
    trajectory, the spacecraft will arrive at Saturn in June of 2004. Upon
    arrival, the Cassini spacecraft performs several maneuvers to achieve an
    orbit around Saturn. Near the end of this initial orbit, the Huygens
    Probe separates from the Orbiter and descends through the atmosphere of
    Titan. The Orbiter relays the Probe data to Earth for about 3 hours
    while the Probe enters and traverses the cloudy atmosphere to the
    surface. After the completion of the Probe mission, the Orbiter
    continues touring the Saturnian system for three and a half years. Titan
    synchronous orbit trajectories will allow about 35 flybys of Titan and
    targeted flybys of Iapetus, Dione and Enceladus. The objectives of the
    mission are threefold: conduct detailed studies of Saturn's atmosphere,
    rings and magnetosphere; conduct close-up studies of Saturn's
    satellites, and characterize Titan's atmosphere and surface.

    One of the most intriguing aspects of Titan is the possibility that its
    surface may be covered in part with lakes of liquid hydrocarbons that
    result from photochemical processes in its upper atmosphere. These
    hydrocarbons condense to form a global smog layer and eventually rain
    down onto the surface. The Cassini orbiter will use onboard radar to
    peer through Titan's clouds and determine if there is liquid on the
    surface. Experiments aboard both the orbiter and the entry probe will
    investigate the chemical processes that produce this unique atmosphere.

    The Cassini mission is named for Jean Dominique Cassini (1625-1712), the
    first director of the Paris Observatory, who discovered several of
    Saturn's satellites and the major division in its rings. The Titan
    atmospheric entry probe is named for the Dutch physicist Christiaan
    Huygens (1629-1695), who discovered Titan and first described the true
    nature of Saturn's rings.

	 Key Scheduled Dates for the Cassini Mission (VVEJGA Trajectory)
	   10/06/97 - Titan IV/Centaur Launch
	   04/21/98 - Venus 1 Gravity Assist
	   06/20/99 - Venus 2 Gravity Assist
	   08/16/99 - Earth Gravity Assist
	   12/30/00 - Jupiter Gravity Assist
	   06/25/04 - Saturn Arrival
	   01/09/05 - Titan Probe Release
	   01/30/05 - Titan Probe Entry
	   06/25/08 - End of Primary Mission
	    (Schedule last updated 7/22/92)


    CLEMENTINE - Joint mission of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization
    (formerly SDIO) and NASA to flight test sensors developed by Lawrence
    Livermore for BMDO. The spacecraft, built by the Naval Research Lab, was
    launched on January 25, 1994 to a 425 km by 2950 km orbit of the Moon
    for a 2 month mapping mission. Instruments onboard include UV to mid-IR
    imagers, including an imaging lidar that may be able to also obtain
    altimetric data for the middle latitudes of the Moon. In May 1994 the
    spacecraft was sent out of Lunar orbit towards a flyby of the asteroid
    Geographos, but a malfunction in the onboard computer system resulted in
    loss of all attitude control fuel and inability to complete the mission.

    Clementine imagery and other data may be obtained from

    CLUSTER - ESA project using four spacecraft to study the Earth's plasma
    environment. The Ariane 5 booster failed shortly after launch on June 4,
    1996 and the mission was lost.

    EARTH OBSERVING SYSTEM (EOS) - Multiple orbiting platforms to provide
    long-term data of Earth systems science including planetary evolution.
    Platform launches are scheduled throughout the late 1990s. More info in
    in the sci.geo.eos FAQ, or

    GALILEO - Jupiter orbiter and atmosphere probe. Galileo was launched
    from the Space Shuttle on October 18, 1989 into a complex trajectory
    making use of gravity assists from Venus and (twice) the Earth to gain
    enough energy to reach Jupiter. The High Gain Antenna failed to deploy
    despite repeated attempts; A combination of data compression on the
    spacecraft and enhancements to the receiving antennas in the Deep Space
    Network should allow Galileo to achieve the majority 70% of its original
    science objectives using the much lower speed Low Gain Antenna. Longterm
    Jovian weather monitoring, which is imagery intensive, will suffer the

    Galileo return the first resolved images of asteroids, Gaspra and Ida,
    while in transit to Jupiter. It arrived in Jupiter orbit on December 7,
    1995. The atmospheric probe mission was successful and its data has been
    returned to Earth. Several satellite encounters have been completed and
    the mission is continuing.

	   Galileo Orbital Tour Schedule
	   12/95 - 10/97 - Orbital Tour of Jovian Moons
	   06/26/96 - Ganymede-1
	   09/06/96 - Ganymede-2
	   11/04/96 - Callisto-3
	   11/06/96 - Europa-3A
	   12/19/96 - Europa-4
	   01/20/97 - Europa-5A
	   02/20/97 - Europa-6
	   04/04/97 - Europa-7A
	   04/05/97 - Ganymede-7
	   05/06/97 - Callisto-8A
	   05/07/97 - Ganymede-8
	   06/25/97 - Callisto-9
	   06/26/97 - Ganymede-9A
	   09/17/97 - Callisto-10
	   11/06/97 - Europa-11


    HITEN (MUSES-A) - Japanese (ISAS) lunar probe launched 1/24/90. Made
    multiple lunar flybys and released Hagoromo, a smaller satellite, into
    lunar orbit. This mission made Japan the third nation to orbit a
    satellite around the Moon. Hiten impacted the lunar surface on 4/10/93.

    INFRARED SPACE OBSERVATORY (ISO) - ESA space telescope, launched
    11/17/95. Instruments include an imaging photopolarimeter, camera, and
    two spectroscopes. See

    MAGELLAN - Venus radar mapping mission. Mapped almost the entire surface
    at high resolution and compiled a global gravity map. Magellan ended its
    extended mission in October 12, 1994 during an aerobraking experiment
    which (intentionally) caused entry into the Venusian atmosphere. See

    MARS GLOBAL SURVEYOR - A replacement mission to achieve most of the
    goals of the failed Mars Observer mission, to be launched by a Delta 2
    booster in November 1996. See

    MARS OBSERVER - Mars orbiter including 1.5 m/pixel resolution camera.
    Launched 9/25/92 on a Titan III/TOS booster. Contact was lost with MO on
    8/21/93 while it was preparing for entry into Mars orbit. The spacecraft
    has been written off. See

    MARS PATHFINDER - Mars lander and microrover to perform technology,
    science and engineering experiments on the Martian Surface. To be
    launched by a Delta 2 booster in December 1996. See

    NEAR - Discovery-class mission to rendezvous with near-Earth asteroid
    Eros in February, 1999. Launched 2/17/96 on a Delta II booster. NEAR
    will flyby the asteroid Mathilde in June, 1997 and orbit Eros for at
    least one year to conduct the first comprehensive measurements of an
    asteroid's mass, structure, geology, mineral composition, and gravity
    and magnetic fields. See

    study the Sun's internal structure. Launched 12/2/95 into a "halo orbit"
    1.5 million km sunward from Earth. See

    TOPEX/Poseidon - Joint US/French Earth observing satellite, launched
    8/10/92 on an Ariane 4 booster. The primary objective of the
    TOPEX/POSEIDON project is to make precise and accurate global
    observations of the sea level for several years, substantially
    increasing understanding of global ocean dynamics. The satellite also
    will increase understanding of how heat is transported in the ocean. See

    ULYSSES - European Space Agency probe to study the Sun from an orbit
    over its poles. Launched in late 1990 from the Space Shuttle using a
    two-stage IUS booster, it carries particles-and-fields experiments (such
    as magnetometer, ion and electron collectors for various energy ranges,
    plasma wave radio receivers, etc.) but no camera.

    Since no human-built rocket is hefty enough to send Ulysses far out of
    the ecliptic plane, it went to Jupiter instead, and stole energy from
    that planet by sliding over Jupiter's north pole in a gravity-assist
    manuver in February 1992. This bent its path into a solar orbit tilted
    about 85 degrees to the ecliptic. It will pass over the Sun's south pole
    in the summer of 1994. Its aphelion is 5.2 AU, and, surprisingly, its
    perihelion is about 1.5 AU-- that's right, a solar-studies spacecraft
    that's always further from the Sun than the Earth is!

    While in Jupiter's neigborhood, Ulysses studied the magnetic and
    radiation environment. For a short summary of these results, see
    *Science*, V. 257, p. 1487-1489 (11 September 1992). For gory technical
    detail, see the many articles in the same issue. Also see

    OTHER SPACE SCIENCE MISSIONS (various sources; corrections and updates
    are solicited, and primary sources on the Web are likely to be more
    accurate. Launch dates are tentative; most shuttle missions are not
    listed even when they have some science content).

	o VSOP (VLBI Space Observatory Program) [Jan/Feb, M-V, NASDA]
	    NASA is building 3 specialized tracking stations to record the
	    wideband radioastronomy data that this spacecraft will produce.

	o ISELA [International Space Enterprises/Lavochkin Association]
	    Commercial proposal to land a rover on the Moon in the vicinity
	    of the Apollo 11 site, followed by 3-6 months of exploration.
	    Contact Tom Kessler ( of ISE for details.

	    Multiple penetrator mission to study the crust structure and
	    thermal construction of the moon's interior.

	    Same purpose as VSOP. NRAO is building similar ground stations
	    for tracking. These two spacecraft will coobserve radio sources
	    in conjunction with ground based VLBA radio telescopes.

	o MARS SURVEYOR 98 [December/January, Delta II, NASA]
	    Separate orbiter and lander missions continuing the Mars
	    Surveyor program. See

	    Mars orbiter to observe interaction between Martian atmosphere
	    and the solar wind.

	    Small Explorer mission to survey starburst galaxies, where star
	    formation is taking place at a high rate. See

	    High resonance and sensitivity X-ray astronomy. See

	    Discovery-class mission to rendezvous with comet P/Wild 2.
	    Stardust will collect cometary dust and volatiles as well as
	    interstellar dust, returning samples to Earth in 2006. See

	    High-throughput x-ray spectroscopy satellite. See

	    Fine spectroscopy and accurate imaging of celestial gamma-ray
	    sources in the 15 KeV - 10 MeV range. See

       o MUSES-C [ISAS]
	    Asteroid rendezvous and sample return.

       o PLUTO EXPRESS [Molniya or Delta, joint NASA/RSA]
	    Dual flyby/atmosphere probe mission for low-cost initial
	    reconnaissance of the Pluto-Charon system. Encounter ~2013.
	    Proposed new start in FY 1998. See

	    Fourth element of the Great Observatories program. A free-flying
	    observatory with a lifetime of 5 to 10 years, it will observe
	    new comets and other primitive bodies in the outer solar system,
	    study cosmic birth formation of galaxies, stars and planets and
	    distant infrared-emitting galaxies. See

	    Asteroid flyby and rendezvous with comet P/Wirtanen in 2011.
	    After rendezvous, the spacecraft will stay with the comet along
	    its trajectory into the inner solar system through perihelion
	    (the orbital point nearest to the Sun) to study the material
	    that constitutes the comet, and the cometary processes that
	    evolve with the decreasing distance from the Sun. One or two
	    Surface Science Packages will be deployed onto the comet nucleus
	    surface to provide the means for in-situ studies of the nucleus.

	o FIRST (Far InfraRed Space Telescope) [ESA]
	    Large (3-meter mirror) space observatory with high spatial and
	    spectral resolution imaging in the approximately 85-900 micron
	    wavelength region. See

NEXT: FAQ #10/13 - Controversial questions

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:


[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer: (Jon Leech)

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM