Planetary Science missions, past, current, in planning or in development, extend mankind’s presence to the solar system’s inner rocky worlds, helping to unlock the secrets of the solar systems’ composition, history and evolution, and how life established itself on Earth.
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Understanding the planets and small bodies that inhabit our solar system help scientists answer questions about its formation, how it reached its current diverse state, how life evolved on Earth and possibly elsewhere in the solar system, and what characteristics of the solar system lead to the origins of life.
The Regional Planetary Image Facilities are an international system of planetary image libraries, established in 1977. They maintain photographic and digital data as well as mission documentation and cartographic data. Each facility's general holding contains images and maps of planets and their satellites taken by solar system exploration spacecraft.
The Planetary Data System (PDS) is an archive of data products from NASA planetary missions, which is sponsored by the NASA Office of Space Science. We actively manage the archive to maximize its usefulness, and it has become a basic resource for scientists around the world. All PDS-produced products are peer-reviewed, well-documented, and easily accessible via a system of online catalogs that are organized by planetary disciplines.
The JPL HORIZONS on-line solar system data and ephemeris computation service provides access to key solar system data and flexible production of highly accurate ephemerides for solar system objects ( 381106 asteroids, 2435 comets, 168 planetary satellites, 9 planets, the Sun, L1, L2, select spacecraft, and system barycenters ). HORIZONS is provided by the Solar System Dynamics Group of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
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.
When the Space Age began more than 50 years ago, explorers were eager to visit the planets of the solar system. As the years have passed, however, astronomers have realized that the moons of the solar system may be even more interesting.
Many of these moons are ‘water worlds’ – and planetary scientists, like golden retrievers, always follow the water.