Spacecraft Orbiting the Sun
Solar Orbiter launched in February to study the sun and its poles.
STEREO A and STEREO B track solar storms.
Tesla Roadster lazily orbits the sun.
Ulysses was first to study the sun’s poles.
BepiColombo is looping inward to arrive in 2025.
Mariner 10 was first to reach Mercury, in 1974.
Akatsuki studies slow-spinning Venus, and launched with the IKAROS solar sail.
Venus Express probed the Venusian atmosphere.
Magellan mapped the planet and plunged through its clouds.
Pioneer Venus 1 dropped probes in 1978.
Mariner 10 flew by in 1974.
L1 Lagrangian Point
A balance point between sun and Earth.
ACE studies particles from the sun and beyond.
WIND studies the solar wind.
LISA Pathfinder kept two weights in freefall, a test for sensing gravitational waves.
Hubble just turned 30.
Heading to Mars
Perseverance may launch this week to roam a dry lake and release the Ingenuity helicopter.
Tianwen-1 launched July 23 to orbit, land and rove.
The Rosalind Franklin rover was postponed to 2022.
Chang’e 5-T1 passed the moon and sent a test capsule back to Earth.
Chang’e-3 landed with the Yutu rover.
The twin ARTEMIS spacecraft study Earth’s magnetosphere.
Ebb and Flow mapped lunar gravity.
Chang’e-1 mapped the moon. Chang’e-2 orbited and then left for the L2 Lagrangian point.
Chandrayaan-1 found water.
SMART-1 tested ion propulsion.
Lunar Prospector searched for polar ice.
Clementine tested equipment and cameras.
Hiten counted dust and crashed in 1993. Selene followed to study the evolution of the moon.
L2 Lagrangian Point
A balance point behind the Earth.
Spektr-RG surveys the X-ray sky.
Gaia maps a billion stars.
Herschel peered at the stars in infrared.
Mars Orbiter Mission, also called MOM or Mangalyaan, is India’s first mission to another planet.
Mars Odyssey maps water and ice on Mars.
Phoenix landed in the Martian arctic.
Mars Global Surveyor mapped the planet.
Viking 1 and Viking 2 dropped landers in 1976.
Mariner 9 was the first craft to orbit another planet.
Mariner 4 was first to pass Mars.
Chang’e-2 orbited the moon and L2 before passing asteroid 4179 Toutatis.
Hayabusa sent dust from asteroid Itokawa back to Earth in 2010. Its tiny Minerva lander failed to reach the surface.
NEAR Shoemaker flew by an asteroid before orbiting and landing on Eros.
Giotto, Suisei, Sakigake, Vega 1 and Vega 2 converged on Halley’s comet in 1986.
Ulysses, Cassini and New Horizons passed Jupiter on their way to other destinations.
Voyager 2 flew past in 1986.
Voyager 1 left our solar system in 2012.
Voyager 2 followed in 2018.
Note: This graphic includes spacecraft currently operating beyond Earth orbit, as well as many crashed or inactive spacecraft from recent decades. It omits the Apollo missions, most spacecraft launched before Pioneer 10 in 1972, many Soviet moon and Venus missions and some recent microsatellites. Illustrations not to scale.