Exploring the Solar System – The New York Times

If NASA James Webb Space Telescope successfully launched this week, it will join dozens of active and inactive spacecraft operating beyond Earth’s orbit.

Spaceship Orbiting The Sun

Lucy launched in 2021 on the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter.

Solar orbiter study the sun and its poles.

Parker solar probe brushes the edge of our star.

STEREO A and STEREO B track solar storms.

Tesla Roadster lazily revolves around the sun.

Spitzer watched newborn planets and retired in 2020.

Kepler planets counted until it closed in 2018.

Odysseus was the first to study the poles of the sun.


BepiColombo loop inward to arrive in 2025.

Messenger mapped the planet and crashed in 2015.

Sailor 10 was the first to reach Mercury, in 1974.


Akatsuki studies slowly rotating Venus, and launched with the IKAROS solar veil.

Venus Express probed the Venusian atmosphere.

Magellan mapped the planet and immersed in its clouds.

Vega 1 and Vega 2 landers abandoned before moving on to Halley’s Comet.

Pioneer Venus 1 dropped probes in 1978.

Sailor 10 went there in 1974.

Venera 7 was the first to land softly. Other Venera spacecraft followed in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Lagrange point L1

A point of balance between the sun and the earth.

Chang’e-5 sent a capsule of lunar rocks back to Earth before orbiting point L1.

DSCOVR look at the Earth lit by the sun.

AS studies particles from the sun and beyond.

SOHO observe space weather and find new comets.

WIND study the solar wind.

LISA Pathfinder maintained two weights in free fall, a test to detect gravitational waves.

Genesis caught solar wind particles and brought them back to Earth.

ISEE-3 was the first to orbit around point L1, in 1978. The spacecraft was relaunched by techno-archaeologists in 2014.


the International space station presides over more than 4,500 small satellites in Earth orbit.

Crew dragon was the first commercial device to transport humans to the ISS

China is building the Tiangong space station.

Hubble just turned 30.

Chandra watch the stars explode in bursts of x-rays.

TEST hunts planets and orbits resonating with the moon.


Chang’e-5 picked up moon rocks and earth and sent them back to Earth.

Chandrayaan-2 studies the lunar surface. His Vikram the lander crashed in 2019.

Chang’e-4 was the first to land smoothly on the far side of the moon, and freed the Yutu-2 vagabond. It communicates with the Earth through the Queqiao satellite relay.

Chang’e 5-T1 passed the moon and sent a test capsule back to Earth.

Chang’e-3 landed with the Yutu vagabond.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mapped the surface of the moon and spotted the Apollo landers.

The twin ARTEMIS spacecraft studies the earth’s magnetosphere.

Beresheet crashed on landing in 2019.

LADEE studied the moon dust and crashed on the other side.

Reflux and To flow lunar gravitation mapped.

Chang’e-1 mapped the moon. Chang’e-2 put into orbit then left for the Lagrangian point L2.

LCROSS plunged into the plume of an accident victim Centaur rocket.

Chandrayaan-1 found water.

SMART-1 ion propulsion tested.

Lunar prospector in search of polar ice.

Clementine equipment and cameras tested.

Hiten counted dust and crashed in 1993. Selene followed to study the evolution of the moon.

Moon 24 was the last of many successful Luna missions. He returned a sample to Earth in 1976.

Explorer 49 was the last US mission to the moon in two decades, until Clementine In 1994.

Lagrangian Point L2

A point of balance behind the Earth.

Spektr-RG scans the sky with X-rays.

Gaia maps a billion stars.

Herschel scanned the stars in the infrared.

Planck and WMAP probed the cosmic diffuse background.


Perseverance and his Ingenuity helicopter study of the Jezero crater.

Tianwen-1 transported the first Chinese lander and rover to Mars.

Hope is the first interplanetary mission of an Arab country.

Overview landed in 2018 and listens to earthquakes.

The ExoMars Trace gas orbiter sniffs methane and frees the convict Schiaparelli lander.

MAVEN studies the history of Mars.

Mars Orbiter Mission, also called MOM Where Mangalyaan, is India’s first mission to another planet.

Curiousity travels through Gale crater, an ancient Martian lake.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter studies and photographs the Martian surface.

March Express released the silent Beagle 2 lander, which was only located in 2015.

The Odyssey of Mars maps water and ice on Mars.

Phoenix landed in the Martian arctic.

Opportunity rover died in 2019.

Spirit The rover found itself trapped in the sand after roaming Mars for six years.

Mars Scout landed and released stay, the first rover on another planet.

World Surveyor of Mars mapped the planet.

Viking 1 and Viking 2 the landers dropped in 1976.

Marinate 9 was the first spacecraft to orbit another planet.

Sailor 4 was the first to pass March.


DARD launched in November to deflect the asteroid Dimorphos.

Hayabusa2 made a hole in asteroid Ryugu, returned a sample to Earth, and is now heading for asteroid KY26.

OSIRIS-REx hit the asteroid Bennu and returns to Earth with a sample.

Chang’e-2 orbited the moon and L2 before passing asteroid 4179 Toutatis.

Dawn visited the asteroid Vesta, then mapped the dwarf planet Ceres.

Hayabusa sent dust from the asteroid Itokawa to Earth in 2010. Its tiny Neck brace The lander failed to reach the surface.

NEAR the shoemaker flew over an asteroid before going into orbit and landing on Eros.


Rosette past asteroids, followed comet 67P / CG and bounced back and lost the Philae lander on the head.

Deep impact slammed an impactor in comet Tempel 1 in 2005. Renamed EPOXI, the spacecraft flew to visit Comet Hartley 2.

Stardust flew over an asteroid, returned a sample of Comet Wild 2, and took a second look at Tempel 1.

Deep space 1 passed the asteroid Braille in 1999 and comet Borrelly in 2001.

Giotto, Suisei, Sakigake, Vega 1 and Vega 2 converged on Halley’s Comet in 1986.

ISEE-3 has been renamed International cometary explorer and was the first to visit a comet, in 1985. It passed Earth again in 2014.


Juno turns to the sun to study Jupiter’s clouds.

Galileo was the first to orbit Jupiter and crashed in 2003.

Odysseus, Cassini and New Horizons passed Jupiter on his way to other destinations.

Pioneer 10 was the first to reach Jupiter in 1973, followed by Pioneer 11 in 1974 and Traveler 1 and Traveler 2 in 1979.


Cassini took stunning images of Saturn and its moons, dropped the Huygens land on Titan and eventually dove inside the rings and disappeared.

Pioneer 11 was the first to overtake Saturn in 1979, followed by Traveler 1 in 1980 and Traveler 2 in 1981.


Traveler 2 passed in 1986.


Traveler 2 passed Neptune and its moon Triton in 1989.


New Horizons sighted the frozen heart of the dwarf planet during a flyby in 2015.

Kuiper belt

New Horizons passed Ultima Thule – now named Arrokoth – in 2019, and will eventually leave the solar system.

Interstellar space

Traveler 1 left our solar system in 2012.

Traveler 2 followed in 2018.

Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 are almost there, but no longer in contact with Earth.

Note: This graphic includes spacecraft currently operating beyond Earth orbit, as well as many crashed or inactive spacecraft from the past decades. It omits the Apollo missions, most of the spacecraft launched before Pioneer 10 in 1972, many Soviet missions to the Moon and Venus, and a few recent microsatellites. Illustrations are not to scale.

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