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Missions

Planetary exploration missions are conducted by some of the most sophisticated robots ever built. Through them we extend our senses to the farthest reaches of the Solar System and into remote and hostile environments, where the secrets of our origins and destiny lie hidden.

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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 Chandrayaan-1 (M3)
The Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) is one of two instruments that NASA is contributing to India's first mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-1, which is scheduled to be launched in 2008. This mission is part of SMD's Discovery Program. This mission ...
20081022 October 22, 2008 4Past
Planets Clementine
The Clementine mission was designed to test lightweight miniature sensors and advanced spacecraft components by exposing them, over a long period of time, to the difficult environment of outer space. Clementine also completed the complex task of mapping the moon.
19940125 January 25, 1994 4Past
Planets CONTOUR
The Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) was a mission intended to greatly expand what is known of comet nuclei and to assess their diversity. This mission is part of SMD's Discovery program.
20020703 July 03, 2002 4Past
Planets Dawn
The Dawn mission intends to orbit Vesta and Ceres, two of the largest asteroids in the solar system. According to current theories, the very different properties of Vesta and Ceres are the result of the asteroids being formed and evolving ...
20070927 September 27, 2007 3Operating
Planets Deep Impact
The Deep Impact mission was selected as a Discovery mission in 1999. The spacecraft was launched aboard a Delta II rocket on January 12, 2005 and left Earth’s orbit toward Comet Tempel 1. The spacecraft consists of two main sections, ...
20050112 January 12, 2005 4Past
Planets Deep Space 1
During its 11-month primary mission, DS1 successfully tested 12 revolutionary technologies destined for future missions. In 2001, DS-1 returned the best pictures and other scientific data ever collected at a comet.
19981024 October 24, 1998 4Past
Planets Epoxi
Extrasolar Planet Observation and Deep Impact Extended Investigation EPOXI is a follow-on mission to Deep Impact. This mission is part of SMD's Discovery program.
20050112 January 12, 2005 3Operating
Planets ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
The European Space Agency plans for the ExoMars rover to grind samples of Martian soil to fine powder and deliver them to a suite of analytical instruments, including Urey that will search for signs of life.
4Past
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 Genesis
The Genesis mission was designed to collect samples of the charged particles in the solar wind and return them to Earth laboratories for detailed analysis. This mission is part of SMD's Discovery program.
20010808 August 08, 2001 4Past
Planets GRAIL
The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission is a Discovery Program mission to study the lunar interior. This mission is part of SMD's Discovery Program.
20110910 September 10, 2011 3Operating
Planets Hayabusa
The objective of Hayabusa (formerly Muses-C) mission was to collect a surface sample of material from the small asteroid and return the sample to Earth for analysis.
20030509 May 09, 2003 4Past
Planets ILN
International Lunar Net-work (ILN), was conceived in 2008 as a partnership among space-faring nations to establish a set of robotic geophysical monitoring stations on the surface of the Moon.
20180301 March 01, 2018 1Under Study
Planets Juno
The Juno mission is the next scientific investigation in the NASA New Frontiers Program. The mission's primary science goal is to significantly improve our understanding of the formation and structure of Jupiter.
20110805 August 05, 2011 3Operating
Planets LADEE
Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is a NASA mission that will orbit the Moon and its main objective is to characterize the atmosphere and lunar dust environment. This mission is part of SMD's Robotic Lunar Exploration program.
20130906 September 2013 2Development
Planets Lunar Prospector
Lunar Prospector was the third of NASA's Discovery missions. The project mapped the chemical composition of the lunar surface and the Moon's global magnetic and gravity fields at a level of detail greater than that achieved by previous missions. This ...
19980107 January 07, 1998 4Past
Planets Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is the first mission in NASA's plan to return to the moon and then to travel to Mars and beyond. This mission is part of SMD's Robotic Lunar Exploration program.
20090617 June 17, 2009 3Operating
Planets Magellan
The Magellan mission scientific objectives were to study land forms and tectonics, impact processes, erosion, deposition, chemical processes, and model the interior of Venus.
19890504 May 04, 1989 4Past
Planets Mariner Missions
Between 1962 and 1973, NASA designed and built 10 spacecraft named Mariner to explore the inner solar system – visiting the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars for the first time, and returning to Venus and Mars for additional close observations.
19620721 July 21, 1962 4Past
Planets Mars Climate Orbiter
Mars Climate Orbiter was designed to function as an interplanetary weather satellite and a communications relay for Mars Polar Lander. This mission is part of the Mars program.
19981211 December 11, 1998 4Past
Planets Mars Exploration Rover - Opportunity
The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity was originally designed for a 90 Sol mission (a Sol, one Martian day, is slightly longer than an Earth day at 24 hours and 37 minutes). Its mission has been extended several times as it ...
20030707 July 07, 2003 3Operating
Planets Mars Exploration Rover - Spirit
Mars Exploration Rover Spirit landed in Gusev crater on Mars in January 2004. The rover carries a sophisticated set of instruments that allow it to search for evidence of liquid water that may have been present in the planet's past. ...
20030610 June 10, 2003 4Past
Planets Mars Express (ASPERA-3)
Mars Express is exploring the atmosphere and surface of Mars from polar orbit. The mission's main objective is to search for sub-surface water from orbit and deploy a lander onto the Martian surface.
20030602 June 02, 2003 3Operating
Planets Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Global Surveyor is returning an unprecedented amount of data regarding Mars' surface features, atmosphere, and magnetic properties. Scientists are using the data gathered from this mission both to learn about the Earth by comparing it to Mars, and to ...
19961107 November 07, 1996 4Past
Planets Mars Observer
Mars Observer was designed to study the geoscience and climate of Mars. This mission is part of SMD's Mars Exploration program.
19920925 September 25, 1992 4Past
Planets Mars Odyssey
The 2001 Mars Odyssey is an orbiter carrying science experiments designed to make global observations of Mars to improve our understanding of the planet's climate and geologic history, including the search for water and evidence of life-sustaining environments.
20010407 April 07, 2001 3Operating
Planets Mars Pathfinder
Mars Pathfinder launched December 2, 1996 and arrived on the surface of Mars on July 4, 1997. The mission was an engineering demonstration of key technologies and concepts for use in future missions to Mars; it also delivered science instruments ...
19961204 December 04, 1996 4Past
Planets Mars Polar Lander
The Mars Polar Lander was to touch down on the southern polar layered terrain and record local meteorological conditions near the martian south pole. This mission is part of SMD's Mars Exploration program.
19990103 January 03, 1999 4Past
Planets Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) will seek to find out about the history of water on Mars with its science instruments. They will zoom in for extreme close-up photography of the martian surface to analyze minerals, look for subsurface water, ...
20050812 August 12, 2005 3Operating
Planets Mars Science Laboratory
NASA proposes to develop and to launch a roving long-range, long-duration science laboratory that will be a major leap in surface measurements and pave the way for a future sample return mission. The mission will also demonstrate the technology for ...
20111126 November 26, 2011 3Operating
Planets MAVEN
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN), set to launch in 2013, will explore the planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. Scientists will use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of ...
20131118 November 18, 2013 3Operating
Planets MESSENGER
MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) is a scientific investigation of the planet Mercury, the least explored terrestrial planet. This mission is part of SMD's Discovery program.
20040803 August 03, 2004 3Operating
Planets NEAR-Shoemaker
As the first spacecraft to orbit and land on an asteroid, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Shoemaker mission continues to answer fundamental questions about the nature and origin of near-Earth objects. This mission is part of SMD's Discovery Program.
19960217 February 17, 1996 4Past
Planets New Horizons
The New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission will help us understand worlds at the edge of our solar system, by making the first reconnaissance of Pluto and Charon. The mission will then visit one or more Kuiper Belt Objects, in the ...
20060119 January 19, 2006 3Operating
Planets OSIRIS-REx
NASA will launch a spacecraft to an asteroid in 2016 and use a robotic arm to pluck samples that could better explain our solar system's formation and how life began. The mission, called Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, will ...
20160901 September 2016 2Development
Planets Phoenix
Phoenix seeks to verify the presence of the Martian Holy Grail: water and habitable conditions.
20070804 August 04, 2007 4Past
Planets Pioneer 10 & 11
These Pioneer missions traveled through the asteroid belt to observe Jupiter, Saturn and continue on to the outer solar system.
19720303 March 03, 1972 4Past
Planets Pioneer Venus Missions
Pioneer Venus consisted of two spacecraft to study Venus: the Orbiter and the Multiprobe.
19780520 May 20, 1978 4Past
Planets Ranger
The Ranger project of the 1960s was the first U.S. effort to launch probes directly toward the Moon. The spacecraft were designed to relay pictures and other data as they approached the Moon and finally crash-landed into its surface.
19610822 August 22, 1961 4Past
Planets Rosetta
The Rosetta Orbiter will study the origin of comets, the relationship between cometary and interstellar material and its implications with regard to the origin of the Solar System. This mission is part of SMD's Solar System Exploration Program.
20040302 March 02, 2004 3Operating
Planets Stardust
Stardust is the first U.S. space mission dedicated solely to the exploration of a comet, and the first robotic mission designed to return extraterrestrial material from outside the orbit of the Moon. This mission is part of SMD's Discovery Program. ...
19990207 February 07, 1999 4Past
Planets Stardust-NExT
STARDUST-NExT - short for "New Exploration of Tempel-1" - is a follow-on mission for STARDUST, one of the great successes of NASA's Discovery program.
4Past
Planets Surveyor
Surveyor succeeded the Ranger program. Its primary focus was engineering work in preparation for Apollo, specifically soft landings and lifting off from the moon's surface.
19660529 May 29, 1966 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