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Where Are They Now: Checking In on Earth’s 25 Active Missions

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? There are 25 active space missions outside Earth's orbit. Here's where they are and what they're up to. Text by Michael Bullerdick; Infographic by Julie Rossman MILES FROM MESSENGER THE SUN* MISSION: To photograph Mercury and seek signs of water and carbon-containing compounds. LAUNCHED: August 2004 by NASA LOCATION: Orbiting Mercury since 2011 MERCURY 35.4 MILLION VENUS EXPRESS VENUS MISSION: To examine Venus's dense atmosphere LAUNCHED: November 2005 by ESA 67.1 MILLION SOHO LOCATION: Orbiting Venus since April of 2006 MISSION: To study the sun, from its deep core to its outer winds. It has also been instrumental in discovering several thousand comets. LAUNCHED: December 1995 by ESA and NASA ACE LOCATION: In orbit around the sun at L1 (Advanced Composition Explorer) MISSION: To study particles of solar, interplanetary, and intergalactic origins LAUNCHED: August 1997 by NASA LOCATION: In orbit around the sun at L1 WIND MISSION: To study solar wind and charged particles LAUNCHED: November 1994 by NASA LOCATION: In orbit around the sun at L1 STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) MISSION: These two virtually identical spacecraft have slowly diverging orbital positions on opposite sides of the sun to photograph stereoscopic images. L1 92 MILLION LAUNCHED: October 2006 by NASA LOCATION: In orbit around the sun at roughly Earth's radius Lagrange Point 1, one of 5 points of sustainable orbit around the sun LRO LADEE (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) MISSION: To study the lunar surface in an attempt to find favorable locations for, among other things, MISSION: To study the lunar exosphere and dust in the moon's vicinity future moon colonies LAUNCHED: September 2013 by NASA LAUNCHED: June 2009 by NASA LOCATION: Orbiting the moon LOCATION: Orbiting the moon EARTH & MOON. 93.2 MILLION ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon's Interaction with the Sun) MISSION: To study the moon's interaction with the sun. Uses existing in-orbit spacecraft formerly part of the 2007 THEMIS mission. CHANG'E 3 LAUNCHED: Reconfigured as ARTEMIS in July 2010 by NASA LOCATION: Orbiting the moon MISSION: To study lunar topography, composition and resources. Works in tandem with Yutu, a lunar rover LAUNCHED: December 2013 by CNSA LOCATION: As of Dec 14, 2013, eight days after assuming orbit, it soft landed in the Sinus Iridum (44.1° N, 31.5° W)-a plain of basaltic lava that forms a northwestern extension to the Mare Imbrium on Earth's moon MARS ORBITER MISSION MISSION: India's first mission to Mars, intended to orbit the planet and test the probe's technology for future interplanetary missions LAUNCHED: November 2013 by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) LOCATION: As of January 21, MOM had travelled 6.8 million miles from Earth, and is expected to assume orbit in Sept 2014 MAVEN 100 MILLION (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) MISSION: To study the loss of the Martian atmosphere from orbit LAUNCHED: November 2013 by NASA LOCATION: 8.9 million miles from Earth as of January 9th, and is expected to assume orbit in Sept 2014 CHANG'E 2 MISSION: Originally to scout the moon's surface for a place to position a lunar lander (Jade Rabbit). Traveled to L2 in August 2011, and conducted a flyby of near-earth asteroid Toutatis in December 2012. LAUNCHED: October 2010 by China National Space Administration JUNO LOCATION: More than 37 million miles away from Earth as of 2013 MISSION: To study Jupiter's atmosphere, core and magnetic field from orbit to learn about the planet's formation LAUNCHED: August 2011 by NASA LOCATION: 78 million miles from Earth as of January 10, and set to arrive at its mission destination in July 2016 MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) MISSION: To search for evidence of whether water has ever existed on Mars for long enough to support life and to serve as a communication link for the Mars rovers. LAUNCHED: August 2005 by NASA LOCATION: In orbit around Mars ODYSSEY MISSION: To survey the surface composition of Mars, detect water and study the radiation environment, and to serve as a communications relay station for the Mars rovers LAUNCHED: April 2001 by NASA LOCATION: In orbit around Mars MARS MARS EXPRESS 141.6 MILLION MISSION: To search for signs of sub-surface water from orbit LAUNCHED: June 2003 by ESA LOCATION: Orbiting around Mars since December 2003, and recently positioned 45 kilometers above the surface of Phobos, Mars' largest moon CURIOSITY ROVER OPPORTUNITY ROVER MISSION: To search for signs of past or current water and microbial life MISSION: To search for signs of past water on Mars LAUNCHED: November 2011 by NASA LOCATION: Exploring the Gale Crater (near the northwestern part of the Aeolis Quadrangle) since August 2012 LAUNCHED: July 2003 by NASA LOCATION: On the surface of Mars since January 2004 in the Meridiani Planum, a plain located 2 degrees south of Mars' equator ROSETTA MISSION: To analyze comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko LAUNCHED: March 2004 by ESA ASTEROID BELT DAWN LOCATION: As of January 21st, Rosetta is about 415 million miles from the Sun, and around 5 million miles from its August-December rendezvous with comet 67P 278 MILLION MISSION: To analyze planetary bodies Vesta and Ceres LAUNCHED: September 2007 by NASA LOCATION: As of January 21st, 210 million miles from Earth, traveling between Vesta and Ceres, and set to rendezvous with Ceres in 2015 (-eesa CASSINI MISSION: To study Saturn and its rings, and to deliyer the Huygens lander (2005) to the surface of Titan, Saturn's largest moon LAUNCHED: October 1997 by NASA, ESA, and ASI SATURN LOCATION: Orbiting Saturn since 2004 890.5 MILLION NEW HORIZONS MISSION: To study Pluto and other objects in the Kuiper Belt LAUNCHED: January 2006 by NASA LOCATION: Currently 2.8 billion miles from Earth; set to fly by Pluto in July 2015 PLUTO 3.67 BILLION VOYAGER 2 MISSION: Launched before Voyager 1, Voyager 2 took a slower path and explored not just Jupiter and Saturn but Uranus and Neptune. V1 and V2 both have copies of the "Golden Record," with audio samples and instructions for finding Earth LAUNCHED: 1977 by NASA LOCATION: Currently 9 billion miles from Earth-the 2nd most distant manmade object in space VOYAGER 1 MISSION: Launched with its twin to take advantage of a once-in- 175-years planetary alignment, Voyager 1 explored Jupiter, Saturn, and their moons, before proceeding out toward the edge of the solar system INTERSTELLAR SPACE 11.3 BILLION LAUNCHED: 1977 by NASA LOCATION: Currently 11 billion miles from Earth-the most distant manmade object in space World Science Festival *Map not to scale; all distances are approximate

Where Are They Now: Checking In on Earth’s 25 Active Missions

shared by jrossman on Jan 29
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From twin satellites photographing the sun in 360° to rovers on Mars to a ‘70s-era probe passing out of the heliosphere and into interstellar space, mankind has more than two dozen currently active...


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