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Outer Planets Flagship

The Galileo and Cassini missions to Jupiter and Saturn have greatly deepened our understanding of those giant planets and their intriguing moons. But they have also raised more questions. With Cassini nearing the end of its lifetime, it is time to plan the next flagship-class mission to the outer planets. Three mission concepts are currently under study for a new mission to launch in the 2016-17 time frame, with a selection of mission concept and destination expected at the end of this year.

Information about the three candidates can be found at the Outer Planets Assessment Group.

*Sort missions by clicking the column headers.

DivisionNameLaunch DatePhase
Planets Cassini
The Cassini Mission is in the midst of a detailed study of Saturn, its rings, its magnetosphere, its icy satellites, and its moon Titan. Cassini also delivered a probe (called Huygens, provided by the European Space Agency) to Titan, and ...
19971015 October 15, 1997 3Operating
Planets Galileo
The Galileo mission produced a string of discoveries about asteroids, a fragmented comet, Jupiter's atmosphere, Jupiter's magnetic environment, and especially about the geologic diversity of Jupiter's four largest moons. This mission is part of SMD's Outer Planets Flagship program.
19891018 October 18, 1989 4Past
Planets Viking 1 - 2
Two Viking spacecraft, each composed of an orbiter and a lander, flew to Mars in the mid 1970's. They measured atmospheric water vapor, did chemical analysis of the soil, and took photographs of the entire surface.
19750820 August 20, 1975 4Past
Heliophysics Voyager
The twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft continue exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before. In the 25th year after their 1977 launches, they each are much farther away from Earth and the Sun than Pluto is and approaching ...
19770905 September 05, 1977 3Operating