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Missions

Senior Review of Operating Missions

The exploration into the origins of our solar system ... of our very existence, requires the development of complex space missions.

*Sort missions by clicking the column headers.

DivisionNameLaunch DatePhase
Astrophysics ASCA
ASCA was the first X-ray astronomy mission to combine imaging capability with a broad pass band, good spectral resolution, and a large effective area. The mission was also the first satellite to use CCDs for X-ray astronomy.
19930220 February 20, 1993 4Past
Astrophysics ASTRO-H
ASTRO-H is a powerful orbiting observatory being developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for studying extremely energetic processes in the universe. NASA and the JAXA/Institute of Space and Astronautical Science have teamed up to develop a high resolution ...
20150215 2015 2Development
Astrophysics Astro Observatory (ASTRO 1 & 2)
The "Astro Observatory" was developed as a system of telescopes that could fly multiple times on the space shuttle.
19901202 December 02, 1990 4Past
Astrophysics BBXRT
The Broad Band X-ray Telescope (BBXRT) was the first focusing X-ray telescope to operate over a broad energy range (0.3-12 keV) with moderate energy resolution. BBXRT was flown on the space shuttle Columbia (STS-35) on December 2-11, 1990, as part ...
19901202 December 02, 1990 4Past
Astrophysics CGRO
Compton Gamma Ray Observatory mission studied very energetic celestial phenomena: solar flares, cosmic gamma-ray bursts, pulsars, nova and supernova explosions, accreting black holes of stellar dimensions, quasar emission, and interactions of cosmic rays with the interstellar medium. Compton left a ...
19910405 April 05, 1991 4Past
Astrophysics Chandra
Chandra explores the hot turbulent regions in space with images 25 times sharper than previous x-ray pictures. Chandra is performing detailed studies of black holes, supernovas, and dark matter, to increase our understanding of the origin, evolution, and destiny of ...
19990723 July 23, 1999 3Operating
Astrophysics CHIPS
CHIPS launched on January 12, 2003 and carried out an all-sky spectroscopy of the diffuse background at wavelengths from 90 to 260 Å.
20030112 January 12, 2003 4Past
Astrophysics COBE
The COBE satellite was developed to measure the diffuse infrared and microwave radiation from the early universe, to the limits set by our astrophysical environment.
19891118 November 18, 1989 4Past
Astrophysics DXS
The primary objective of the Diffuse X-ray Spectrometer (DXS) payload was to obtain measurements on the diffuse soft X-ray background radiation in the Milky Way Galaxy. DXS flew successfully in January 1993 as a shuttle cargo bay attached payload.
19930113 January 13, 1993 4Past
Astrophysics Euclid
Euclid is an ESA-led mission to map the geometry of the dark Universe. Using two cosmological probes (weak lensing and baryonic acoustic oscillations) in a wide-field survey, Euclid will precisely measure the growth of large-scale structure and the expansion history ...
20200101 2020 2Development
Astrophysics EUVE
The Extreme-Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE) was a part of NASA's Explorer spacecraft series, and designed to operate in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) range of the spectrum, from 70 - 760 Angstroms. The science payload consisted of three grazing incidence scanning telescopes ...
19920607 June 07, 1992 4Past
Astrophysics Fermi
Fermi, NASA's most recent gamma-ray observatory has a wide window on the universe. Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of light, and the gamma-ray sky is spectacularly different from the one we perceive with our own eyes. With a huge ...
20080611 June 11, 2008 3Operating
Astrophysics FUSE
Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) studied the far ultraviolet portion of the electromagnetic spectrum from high orbit. This range provided an opportunity to answer important questions about many types of astrophysical objects, such as the nuclear regions of active galaxies ...
19990624 June 24, 1999 4Past
Astrophysics GALEX
GALEX explored the origin and evolution of galaxies and the origins of stars and heavy elements. It also conducted an all-sky ultraviolet survey.
20030428 April 28, 2003 4Past
Astrophysics GEMS
GEMS was not confirmed to move into development. GEMS would have used an X-ray telescope to measure the polarization of the X-rays coming from the vicinity of compact objects in the universe.
14Studied
Astrophysics Gravity Probe B (GP-B)
The GP-B satellite was designed as a pristine, space-borne laboratory, whose primary task was to use four ultra-precise gyroscopes to measure directly two effects predicted by general relativity.
20040420 April 20, 2004 4Past
Astrophysics HALCA
HALCA is a spacecraft with a radio telescope in orbit to co-observe astronomical objects with radio telescopes on Earth. The project synthesizes a radio telescope as large as the size of the satellite’s orbit - about 40,000 kilometers.
19970212 February 12, 1997 4Past
Astrophysics Herschel
The Herschel Space Observatory is a space-based telescope that will study the Universe by the light of the far-infrared and submillimeter portions of the spectrum. It is expected to reveal new information about the earliest, most distant stars and galaxies, ...
20090514 May 14, 2009 4Past
Astrophysics HETE-1
The prime objective of the HETE spacecraft was to carry out the first multiwavelength study of gamma-ray bursts with Ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma ray instruments. A unique feature of the mission was its capability to localize bursts with several arc-second ...
19961104 November 04, 1996 4Past
Astrophysics HETE-2
HETE-2 was a small scientific satellite designed to detect and localize gamma-ray bursts.
20001009 October 09, 2000 4Past
Astrophysics Hipparcos
Hipparcos was a European Space Agency mission dedicated to the precise measurement of the positions, parallaxes and proper motions of the stars.
19890808 August 08, 1989 4Past
Astrophysics Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
Hubble Space Telescope (HST), an ultraviolet, visible and infrared orbiting telescope, has expanded our understanding of star birth, star death, and galaxy evolution, and has helped move black holes from theory to fact. It has recorded over 100,000 images in ...
19900424 April 24, 1990 3Operating
Astrophysics IEH-3
Seven experiments made up the IEH-3 payload on the STS-95 Space Shuttle mission. The seven hitchhiker experiments were attached to a carrier system in the bay of the Shuttle orbiter for the flight in space.
19981029 October 29, 1998 4Past
Astrophysics INTEGRAL
International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) seeks to unravel the secrets of the highest-energy - and therefore the most violent - phenomena in the Universe.
20021017 October 17, 2002 3Operating
Astrophysics ISO
The Infrared Space Observatory (ISO), was a project of the European Space Agency (ESA), provided astronomers with a unique facility of unprecedented sensitivity for a detailed exploration of the universe ranging from objects in the solar system to the most ...
19951117 November 17, 1995 4Past
Astrophysics IUE
The International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) satellite launched in 1978 and was a unique space observatory in that it was operated like a ground-based observatory. Astronomers came to the Telescope Operations Center and directed their observations while observatory staff members commanded ...
19780126 January 26, 1978 4Past
Astrophysics IXO
International X-ray Observatory (IXO) has been designed to perform X-ray spectroscopy with unprecedented sensitivity and spectral resolution, to determine the flow of gas in accretion disks around black holes in active galactic nuclei and in binary X-ray sources, to measure ...
1Under Study
Astrophysics JDEM
JDEM was a possible future mission to study the expansion history of the universe. It was not selected as one of the ranked recommendations of the 2010 Decadal survey.
14Studied
Astrophysics KAO
The Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO) was a national facility operated by NASA to support research in infrared astronomy. The observatory was a highly modified C141 cargo aircraft that acquired scientific data between 1975 and 1995.
19750521 May 21, 1975 4Past
Astrophysics Keck Interferometer (KI)
The Keck Interferometer is part of NASA's overall effort to find planets and ultimately life beyond our solar system. It combines the light from the twin Keck telescopes to make high resolution measurements of stars and galaxies and to measure ...
3Operating
Astrophysics Kepler
The Kepler Mission, a NASA Discovery mission, is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way Galaxy to detect and characterize hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or nearby the habitable zone.
20090306 March 06, 2009 3Operating
Astrophysics LBTI
The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is part of NASA's effort to find planets and ultimately life beyond our solar system. It combines the light from the twin telescope mirrors to make high resolution measurements of stars and galaxies and ...
2Development
Astrophysics Leonid MAC
Leonid MAC used two aircraft carrying a variety of instruments to examine the particles from the comet Tempel -Tuttle as well as the impact of these on the upper atmosphere.
19981117 November 17, 1998 4Past
Astrophysics LISA
The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) is a space-based observatory that will allow us to view the Universe in a new spectrum, that of gravitational radiation. This mission is part of the Physics of the Cosmos Program.
1Under Study
Astrophysics NuSTAR
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array is a pathfinder mission that will open the high energy X-ray sky for sensitive study for the first time. This mission is part of SMD's Astrophysics Explorers program.
20120613 June 13, 2012 3Operating
Astrophysics OAO
The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) was a series of four satellites launched by NASA between 1966 and 1972.
4Past
Astrophysics ORFEUS-SPAS II
ORFEUS-SPAS II mission conducted investigations of celestial sources in the far and extreme ultraviolet spectral range, and to increase understanding of the evolution of stars, the structure of galaxies, and the nature of the interstellar medium.
19961120 November 20, 1996 4Past
Astrophysics Planck
Planck is imaging minor variations relevant in the Cosmic Background Radiation over the whole sky, with unprecedented sensitivity and angular resolution. Planck is providing information relevant to several cosmological and astrophysical issues, such as testing theories of the early universe ...
20090514 May 14, 2009 4Past
Astrophysics ROSAT
The ROentgen SATellite, was an X-ray observatory developed through a cooperative program between the Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
19900601 June 01, 1990 4Past
Astrophysics RXTE
Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer studied variability over time in the emission of X-ray sources, with moderate spectral resolution. This time behavior is a source of important information about processes and structures in white-dwarf stars, X-ray binaries, neutron stars, pulsars and ...
19951230 December 30, 1995 4Past
Astrophysics SAC-B
Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas-B was designed to advance the study of solar physics and astrophysics through the examination of solar flares, gamma ray bursts, diffuse X-ray cosmic background, and energetic neutral atoms.
19961104 November 04, 1996 4Past
Astrophysics SIM
SIM/SIM-Lite was not recommended for development this decade by the Astro2010 Decadal Survey. As a consequence NASA sponsorship of the project was discontinued effective December 31, 2010.
14Studied
Astrophysics SOFIA
SOFIA is the world's largest airborne observatory. It studies the universe over a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum, from the optical to the far infrared.
3Operating
Astrophysics Spitzer
Spitzer Space Telescope (formerly known as SIRTF) conducts infrared astronomy from space. From an unusual heliocentric orbit designed to keep its sensitive instruments away from Earth's radiated heat, Spitzer has detected several distant objects, including several supermassive black holes, that ...
20030825 August 25, 2003 3Operating
Astrophysics ST-7 / Lisa Pathfinder
Space Technology 7 project will flight test a Disturbance Reduction System (DRS) that will aid scientists in their quest to detect and measure gravitational waves in space.
20150630 2015 2Development
Astrophysics Suzaku (Astro-E2)
Suzaku (formerly Astro-E2) provides powerful tools to use the Universe as a laboratory for unraveling complex, high-energy processes and the behavior of matter under extreme conditions. This mission is part of SMD's Astrophysics Explorers program. This mission was awarded via ...
20050710 July 10, 2005 3Operating
Astrophysics SWAS
The Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS) instrument was a submillimeter wave telescope that incorporated dual heterodyne radiometers and an acousto-optical spectrometer to investigate the composition of dense interstellar clouds.
19981206 December 06, 1998 4Past
Astrophysics Swift
Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer is a three-telescope space observatory for studying the position, brightness, and physical properties of gamma ray bursts. Although gamma ray bursts are the largest known explosions in the Universe, outshining the rest of the Universe ...
20041120 November 20, 2004 3Operating
Astrophysics TPF
The Terrestrial Planet Finder was a mission concept previously under study by NASA. It was comprised of a Coronagraph and Interferometer that would study aspects of planets outside our solar system.
14Studied
Astrophysics WIRE
The Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WIRE) is a Small Explorer Mission designed to study the evolution of starburst galaxies and search for distant ultra-luminous galaxies.
19990304 March 04, 1999 4Past
Astrophysics WISE
WISE spent over a year imaging the entire sky in the infrared. The NEOWISE Survey surveyed small bodies, asteroids, and comets in our solar system.
20091214 December 14, 2009 4Past
Astrophysics WMAP
WMAP addressed fundamental questions in cosmology: What is the geometry of the Universe? How did structures, such as galaxies and galaxy clusters, that we see in today’s sky come about? How old is the Universe, and what are its constituents?
20010630 June 30, 2001 4Past
Astrophysics XMM-Newton
XMM-Newton is an X-ray astrophysics observatory that enables astronomers to conduct sensitive X-ray spectroscopic observations of a wide variety of cosmic sources. This mission is part of SMD's Physics of the Cosmos program.
19991210 December 10, 1999 3Operating