2WIND Launch Date: November 1, 1994 Arrival Date at Target: ~1998 Countries and Agencies Involved: NASA (but France and Russia added instruments)Source:(The Wind Spacecraft Website)Orbit Trajectory to Target: After its launch by a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Station, WIND was put into a figure-eight orbit around the Earth with the assistance of the moon's gravitational field. The furthest point from the Earth on the orbit was 250 Earth radii and the closest point to Earth was 4.5 Earth radii. Later, WIND was inserted into a small circular orbit in the solar wind upstream from the Earth around the point where the gravity of the Earth and the Sun are balanced (Approximately 990,000 miles or 1,6000,000 kilometers from the Earth).Important Science Discoveries: WIND was designed to measure properties of the solar wind before it reaches the Earth. By doing so it was able to measure the mass, momentum and energy of the solar wind and increase scientists knowledge of the Sun.
3General Narrative: WIND was part of an international project known as International Solar-Terrestrial Physics Initiative (ISTP). Using probes from not only NASA, but also Japan and Russia, the ISTP hoped to gain more knowledge about the Sun’s complex processes. In 1998, the project was ended, but the knowledge gained by WIND and other probes was invaluable. Also, WIND had a change of plans in When the solar observatory SOHO was placed in a similar orbit, WIND was moved to a complicated orbit which allows it to sample different parts of space around Earth.Spacecraft Design and Instruments: WIND has a variety of instruments to study the Sun. Some of the instruments aboard WIND measure properties of the solar wind plasma and the proportions of various ions in the solar wind. WIND also uses radio wave receivers to monitor emissions from the Sun and from space plasmas, and a magnetometer samples the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) up to 44 times a second. It also carries two gamma ray detectors, to observe and time gamma ray bursts from distant space.Fate of the Mission: Although its not used as much as before, WIND is still in use and is still providing valuable information about the Sun. It still carries a large reserve of fuel for its rocket engine, so it should remain useful for years to come.
4Mariner 10 Launch Date: November 3, 1973 Arrival Date at Target: March 29, 1974Countries and Agencies Involved: NASASource:(NSSDC Master Catalog: Spacecraft)Orbit Trajectory to Target: Mariner 10 was a flyby mission. It used the gravitation of Venus to investigate Venus and slingshot it to Mercury, which was its ultimate goal. Above is an image of that trajectory.Important Science Discoveries: Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft to study Mercury. It took in-depth photos of the surface and determined that the atmosphere of Mercury is extremely small. It also determined that Mercury has a small magnetic field and a relatively large iron-rich core. On its flyby of Venus, it determined that Venus had a weak magnetic field and studied the circulation of Venus’ atmosphere.
5General Narrative: Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft to use the gravitational pull of one planet (Venus) to reach another (Mercury). Mariner 10 was the first and only spacecraft to visit Mercury. The primary scientific objectives of the mission were to measure Mercury's environment, atmosphere, surface, and body characteristics and to make similar investigations of Venus and to obtain experience with a dual-planet gravity-assist mission. The mission cost roughly $100 million to design and launch.Spacecraft Design and Instruments: Mariner had scientific equipment on it to measure Mercury and Venus’ magnet fields, atmosphere, and to take in-depth photographs of the surface. Experiments included television photography, magnetic field, plasma, infrared radiometry, ultraviolet spectroscopy, and radio science detectors.Fate of Mission: The goal of Mariner 10 was to investigate the surface of Mercury. After three successful flybys, Mariner 10 ran out of attitude-control gas and in March, 1975 the mission was abandoned.
6Magellan Launch Date: May 4, 1989 Arrival Date at Target: August 10, 1990Countries and Agencies Involved: NASASource:http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/magellan.html (NSSDC Master Catalog: Spacecraft)Orbit Trajectory to Target: Magellan was an orbiter. After it was launched from the space shuttle, it was put into a near polar elliptical orbit over Venus.Important Scientific Discoveries: Magellan was able to successfully map most of the surface of Venus. With this information, the land forms and tectonics, impact processes, erosion, deposition, chemical processes, and model the interior of Venus was able to be determined. Magellan showed that Venus had no plate tectonics and at least 85% of the surface is covered with volcanic flows. It also showed scientists that Venus has very little erosion so its surface might be millions of years old.
7General Narrative: The primary objectives of the Magellan mission were to map the surface of Venus with a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and to determine the topographic relief of the planet. At the completion of radar mapping, 98% of the surface was imaged at resolutions better than 100 m, and many areas were imaged multiple times. An example of one of those images is seen to the left.Spacecraft Design and Instruments: Because Venus has such think clouds, conventional photography was impossible. Therefore, Magellan used SAR to take radar images of the surface. This unbelievable system used radar to map the surface. A total of 4225 usable SAR imaging orbits was obtained by Magellan. It also had instruments on it to measure the gravity of Venus.Fate of the Mission: After five years in space, the spacecraft lost contact on October 12, 1994 when it crashed into Venus. It most likely burned up in the think Venusian atmosphere.
8Viking 1 Launch Date: August 20, 1975 Arrival Date at Target: June 19, 1976Countries and Agencies Involved: NASASource:http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/viking.html (NSSDC Master Catalog: Spacecraft)Orbit Trajectory to Target: After a ten month cruise to Mars, the orbiter was set into orbit and the lander was launched on June 19, 1976.Important Scientific Discoveries: The Viking 1 mission as with the Viking 2 mission were very important in establishing that life did not exist on the surface of Mars. Viking 1 was also very important in its mapping of Mars and the information that was gained about its atmosphere and soil content.
9General Narrative: The first month of orbit was devoted to imaging the surface to find appropriate landing sites for the Viking Lander. On July 20, 1976, the Viking 1 Lander separated from the Orbiter and touched down at Chryse Planitia. Once on the surface, the lander conducted three experiments to determine if life existed on Mars. Although some chemicals were discovered, life was not. Another interesting aspect of the Viking 1 mission was that only a few months later an identical spacecraft, Viking 2, was launched.Spacecraft Design and Instruments: Viking 1 was essentially two spacecraft in one: an orbiter and a lander. The orbiter had equipment on it to take detailed surface photos of Mars. More importantly, the lander had equipment to study the physical and magnetic properties of the soil and analyze the atmosphere and weather patterns of Mars. It also had equipment to determine if life existed on Mars.Fate of Mission: After it landed on the surface and completed its mission, Viking 1 Lander ended communication on November 13, After over 1400 orbits, the Viking 1 Orbiter was powered down on August 17, 1980.
10Galileo Launch Date: October 18, 1989 Arrival Date at Target: December 1995Countries and Agencies Involved: NASASource:(Galileo Project Homepage)Orbit Trajectory to Target: The orbit trajectory of Galileo started when it was launched from the space shuttle Atlantis. After a flyby of Venus and Earth twice and passing through the asteroid belt twice, Galileo finally made it to Jupiter. Once there, Galileo established orbit and dropped its probe in December of 1995.Important Scientific Discoveries: Galileo and its probe discovered an unbelievable amount of information about Jupiter and its moons. It discovered on Jupiter itself an intense new radiation belt approximately 50,000 km above Jupiter's cloud tops, Jovian wind speeds in excess of 600 kilometers per hour, a Helium abundance in Jupiter that is nearly the same as in the Sun (24% compared to 25%), and far less water in Jupiter’s atmosphere then originally thought. It also discovered on the moons of Jupiter, extensive resurfacing of Io's surface due to continuing volcanic activity since the Voyagers flew by in 1979, suggested magnetic fields for both Io and Ganymede, and evidence for liquid water ocean under Europa's surface. Also, on its trip out to Jupiter it confirmation the existence of a huge ancient impact basin in the southern part of the Moon's far side, evidence of more extensive lunar volcanism than previously thought and it discovered a satellite (Dactyl) of an asteroid (Ida).
11General Narrative: Apart from being by far one of the most successful spacecraft of NASA’s existence, Galileo was also able to record the first images of a comet impact on a planet. When the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter, Galileo was able to record the actual impacts of the comet and collect information from the planet. Also, although it was originally intended to only last till 1997, Galileo continued to be in use up until recently.Spacecraft Design and Instruments: Galileo consisted of two parts: an orbiter and a probe. Apart from having equipment to take in-depth photos and atmospheric readouts, the orbiter used a “duel spin” design. One section of the spacecraft rotated at 3rpm. On this section, six instruments rapidly gathered data from many different directions. The other section of the spacecraft held steady for the four instruments that must point accurately while Galileo is flying through space. The probe also was invaluable in its investigation of the atmosphere. It used six instruments plus its radio to investigate Jupiter's mysterious atmosphere.Fate of Mission: The Galileo spacecraft's 14-year odyssey came to an end on Sunday, Sept. 21, when the spacecraft passed into Jupiter's shadow then disintegrated in the planet's dense atmosphere at 11:57 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.
12Cassini Launch Date: October 15, 1997 Arrival Date at Target: ~ July 1, 2004Countries and Agencies Involved: NASA, ESA (European Space Agency), Italian Space Agency.Source:http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm(Official Cassini-Huygens Homepage)Orbit Trajectory to Target: In 1998 and 1999, Cassini passed by Venus twice and Earth once and in 2000 it passed by Jupiter. These “flybys” allowed the spacecraft to slingshot its way to the outer reaches of the galaxy so it could arrive at Saturn and establish an orbit.
13Important Scientific Discoveries: It will study charged particles near Saturn, Saturn’s electric and magnetic field, the composition of Saturn’s rings, and the composition of Saturn’s atmosphere. It will also be able to map the surface of Titan using radar and study the surface with its lander. Finally, it will take unbelievably detailed pictures of many objects orbiting Saturn.General Narrative: The Cassini spacecraft was designed to study Saturn and its moons. It consists of two parts, the orbiter and the lander named Huygens. Once established in orbit, Cassini will begin to study Saturn to a depth never before thought possible. In December 2004, the spacecraft will launch the second part of Cassini: a probe named Huygens. Huygens will be dropped onto the moon Titan and hopefully land to study all sorts of data about the moon.Fate of Mission: All told, the Cassini mission will make 74 orbits around Saturn and 44 close flybys of the moon Titan over a four year span. In 2008 it will most likely be terminated, but hopefully, like Galileo, it will serve for a longer time.Spacecraft Design and Instruments: As said before, Cassini consists of two parts: an orbiter and a lander. The orbiter has equipment on it to study a variety of Saturn’s atmosphere, magnetic field, moons and rings. Also, the Italian Space Agency developed the advanced communication antenna that will allow Cassini to transmit all of its data back to Earth. It will also be able to map the surface of Titan using radar. The Huygens probe, which was developed by the ESA (European Space Agency) also has some amazing equipment. It contains instruments to take images, study atmospheric content, temperature, pressure, radiation and has a devise that will study the surface composition of Titan.
14Voyager 2 Launch Date: August 20, 1977 Arrival Date at Target: Ongoing Countries and Agencies Involved: NASASource:http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html (Official Voyager Website)Orbit Trajectory to Target: Voyager 2 took advantage of a rare once-every-189-years alignment to slingshot its way from outer planet to outer planet. Voyager 2 was launched before Voyager 1 by a Titan-Centaur rocket, and flew by Jupiter on August 7, 1979, by Saturn on August 26, 1981, by Uranus on January 24, 1986, and by Neptune on August 8, By doing so, it was able to gain more scientific information then ever thought possible. It is still in space and is about 90 AU away from the Sun.
15Important Scientific Discoveries: Voyager 2 gave invaluable information about the 4 giant planets, their satellites, and their rings. Voyager 2 discovered that Jupiter has complicated atmospheric dynamics like lightning and aurorae. It also discovered three new satellites, rings around Jupiter and that Io has active sulfurous volcanoes. At Saturn, it discovered over 1000 ringlets and 7 satellites. Its information on Uranus and Neptune was also very important. It discovered that Uranus has 10 satellites and one more ring was discovered. Neptune was found to have rather active weather, including numerous cloud features. Two other rings and 6 other satellites were discovered. Also, new information was discovered about the atmosphere of Triton, a moon of Neptune.General Narrative: Apart from all its other amazing aspects, Voyager 2 carries with it an interesting message. It has a phonograph record-a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. This disk contains sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan. Dr. Sagan and his committee assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Carter and U.N. Secretary General Waldheim. Each record is encased in a protective aluminum jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle. Instructions, in symbolic language, explain the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record is to be played.Spacecraft Design and Instruments: Voyager 2 is identical to its brother Voyager 1. The spacecraft uses a three-axis stabilized system. This system uses celestial or gyro referenced attitude control to maintain pointing of the high-gain antennas toward Earth. The spacecraft consists of 10 instruments. These include cameras for in-depth photography and plasma, cosmic ray, ultraviolet, infrared, radio, and magnetic field detectors. Most of these instruments are still running.Fate of Mission: Voyager 2 is still flying in space for more then 25 years. It will most likely stay operational until 2020 when the spacecraft will run out of power and will no longer be able to run its scientific instruments.
16SIM Launch Date: ~ 2009 Arrival Date at Target: ~ 2009 Countries and Agencies Involved: NASASource:http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/SIM/sim_index.html (Official SIM Homepage)Orbit: Even though SIM has not been launched yet, its orbit can be somewhat assessed. From the end of the calibration period through the year 2011, the SIM interferometer will perform nearly continuous science observations over the entire celestial sphere. It will most likely be in orbit for this entire time around Earth, but changes may be made as this project develops.Important Scientific Discoveries: Once SIM is deployed, it will determine the distances to stars throughout the galaxy. It will also be able to probe nearby stars for Earth-sized planets. It will study nebula, star forming regions, and other gigantic space anomalies. It will be able to determine the positions and distances of stars several hundred times more accurately than any previous program. Hopefully, all this information will expand the knowledge about the cosmos.
17General Narrative: The way in which SIM will take unbelievably detailed photographs of the universe is through interferometry. Interferometry works by taking advantage of the fact that light behaves like waves on an ocean. Humans see our surroundings because our eyes receive waves of different wavelengths or frequencies and translate them into different colors. By combining these different wavelengths, interferometry can determine the light from far away stars. To achieve maximum efficiency, SIM will be launched into space so that it won’t have to deal with the atmospheric distortion of Earth. Out in space, SIM will be able to combine light from multiple telescopes as if they were pieces of a single telescope. It does this by taking separate pieces of light and combining them into one image. This image will be in unbelievably high detail and will give scientists a much more detailed view of space objects.Spacecraft Design and Instruments: SIM will have unbelievably advanced technology to collect light from its multiple telescopes. Pointing of the spacecraft will be performed using reaction wheels. Pointing will be performed such that the nominal viewing axis never be within 45 degrees of the Sun to protect the viewing optics from heating. The spacecraft's velocity will need to be determined to an accuracy of 20 mm/sec or better in order to correct for relativistic stellar aberration. This will be achieved using ranging and doppler data obtained by 34m Deep Space Network (DNS) ground stations. Observation data will be stored onboard, and returned to Earth several times each week. These are only preliminary designs, changes most likely will be made as SIM goes into deeper development.Fate of Mission: Although this is difficult to determine, the lifespan of SIM is said to be about two years. Hopefully, like earlier spacecraft, it will be able to last much longer.
18Chandra Launch Date: July 23, 1999 Arrival at Target: July 23, 1999 (it circles Earth)Countries and Agencies Involved: NASASource: (The Chandra X-ray Observatory).Orbit: After being deployed by the space shuttle Colombia, Chandra was put in an elliptical orbit around the Earth. Its orbit is not on the same elliptical plane as Earth. The spacecraft spends 85% of its orbit above the belts of charged particles that surround the Earth. Chandra's unusual orbit was achieved after deployment by a built-in propulsion system which boosted the observatory to a high Earth orbit. The orbit takes it more than a third of the way to the moon before returning to its closest approach to the Earth of 16,000 kilometers. The time to complete an orbit is 64 hours and 18 minutes. Important Scientific Discoveries: Chandra takes x-ray images of far away space objects. By using x-rays, Chandra is able to observe amazing space anomalies like nebula and star forming regions in unbelievable detail. With this information, Scientists can study the universe with more detail then ever before thought possible.
19General Narrative: Chandra uses its x-ray telescope to take pictures that are far more detailed then were ever possible before. As an example the image on the left is from the High Resolution Imager on the Rontgen satellite, the observatory with the best imaging capability before Chandra. The image on the right, taken by Chandra, has approximately fifty times better resolution than the one on the left. In the Chandra image, new details-rings and jets in the region around the pulsar provide valuable information for understanding the space anomaly.Spacecraft Design and Instruments: Chandra is not really a spacecraft it is more like a space observatory. The Observatory has three major parts. First, and most importantly, there is the X-ray telescope. This telescope uses mirrors to focus x-rays from celestial objects so images can be taken. Also, Chandra has science instruments which record the x-rays. These instruments are used so that x-ray images can be produced and analyzed. Finally, the spacecraft provides the environment necessary for the telescope and the instruments to work.Fate of Mission: Chandra is still in use and will hopefully stay so for the next decade. It currently has no shutdown or power down date.
20SIRTF (Space Infrared Telescope Facility) Launch Date: August 25, 2003Arrival at Target:Countries and Agencies Involved: NASASource:(Official SIRTF Website)Orbit: The orbit of SIRTF is an interesting one. After its launched into space by a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral, it drifted away from Earth at a rate of about 0.1 AU a year. This allows SIRTF to simply drift behind Earth as it circles the Sun. The drifting heliocentric orbit places SIRTF in deep space, where the temperatures are about 30 to 40 K. By using nature to assist in cooling, it can carry much less liquid helium cryogen than it would need in an Earth orbit.Important Scientific Discoveries: SIRTF’s highly sensitive instruments give a unique view of the universe and allows scientists to peer into regions of space which are hidden from optical telescopes. This occurs because many areas of space are filled with vast clouds of gas and dust which block regular telescopes. SIRTF can penetrate these clouds using infrared light. This allows scientists to look into regions of star formation, the centers of galaxies, and into newly forming planetary systems. Also, SIRTF provides information about cooler objects in space, such as smaller stars which are too dim to be detected by their visible light, extrasolar planets, and giant molecular clouds.
21General Narrative: SIRTF is the largest infrared telescope ever launched into space. SIRTF will be the final mission in NASA's Great Observatories Program, which send into space four telescopes to measure visible, gamma, x-ray and infrared light. Other missions in this program include the Hubble Space Telescope, Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, and Chandra. SIRTF is also a part of NASA's Astronomical Search for Origins Program designed to provide information which will help scientists understand Earth’s cosmic roots, and how galaxies, stars and planets develop and form.Spacecraft Design and Instruments: SIRTF is not so much a spacecraft, but an observatory. Consisting of a 0.85-meter telescope and three cryogenically-cooled science instruments, SIRTF can take pictures in the infrared that are amazingly detailed. The telescope is surrounded by an outer shell that radiates heat, and is shielded from the Sun by solar panels. The outer shell and inner, middle, and outer shields are cooled by helium vapor. An example of one of the pictures taken by the infrared telescope is to the left. This picture shows how the infrared telescope on SIRTF can take pictures of immense detail in the infrared.Fate of Mission: SIRTF is scheduled for a two and a half year long mission. At the end of this period, it will most likely remain in use, but in a more limited manner.
22JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) Launch Date:~ 2011Arrival at Target:~2011Countries and Agencies Involved: NASASource: (Official NASA Site)Orbit: Once JWST is launched into space using a Ariane 5 Rocket, it will most likely establish an orbit around the Earth at about 1.5 million km from Earth. At this distance, JWST can be cold enough to operate without excessive coolant.Important Scientific Discoveries: JWST will be able to study the universe to a degree never before possible. It will study in the infrared in much higher detail than any spacecraft before it. By observing in the infrared, JWST will be able to expand scientists knowledge of all types of space anomalies from nebula to the birth of stars and planetary systems similar to Earths. Also by using JWST, scientists hope to get a better understanding of dark matter and the shape of the universe .
23General Narrative: JWST will take the place of the Hubble Space Telescope at the end of this decade. It will study the universe at the important but previously unobserved epoch of galaxy formation. By studying the universe so far in the past, JWST will reveal information about the creation of the universe. The JWST is also a key element in NASA's Origins Program whose goal is to discover the origin of the universe. Also, JWST will cost in-excess of $824.8 million.Spacecraft Design and Instruments: JWST will have many innovations on it that will make it the most advanced telescope ever. It will be constructed using extremely light weight mirrors. This will cut down on costs because the cost of launching satellites is determined by their weight and lighter mirrors will mean decreased launch costs. The primary mirror for JWST will not have the luxury of being massive and retaining its perfect optical shape through material stiffness. The quality of the reflective surface will be computer controlled and this will give higher quality and sharper images. Also, JWST is expected to operate at Kelvin, so it needs a large amount of coolant. The infrared telescope will be take photographs in unbelievable detail and an artists concept of it is to the right. Fate of Mission: Although there is very little information about this, the theory is that JWST will last for five to ten years.