NASA’s Interplanetary Missions
InSight is a robotic Mars lander designed and operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the first mission dedicated to a comprehensive study of the interior and subsurface of Mars through a suite of instruments including a high-fidelity seismometer and a burrowing heat probe. It is the first outer space mission designed for an in-depth study of the interior of another rocky planet and will deliver valuable knowledge on the internal structure of Mars
OSIRIS-REx is a NASA asteroid exploration and sample return mission launching on an Atlas V rocket in September 2016 before arriving at asteroid Bennu in 2018 for an exploration mission of two and half years ahead of a return launch in 2021 and a landing on Earth in September 2023 with up to two Kilograms of sample material from the asteroid.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft traveled through the solar system for nearly one decade to be the first to get an up-close look at Pluto, one of the last large unexplored worlds in the solar system. Arriving at Pluto in July 2015, New Horizons delivered a truly unprecedented data set and gave Pluto a face – collecting the first high resolution images of the Dwarf Planet.
Curiosity, NASA’s flagship Mars Rover, is completing an ambitious mission of discovery on the surface of Mars. Spending several years on Mars, Curiosity has mad a number of key discoveries with regards to the Planet’s past habitability.
MAVEN, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft, is orbiting the red planet for an in-depth look at the Martian Atmosphere – peering deep into the past to find out how and why Mars lost almost all of its atmosphere, turning the planet from the warm, hospitable place to a deserted world.
NASA’s Dawn mission sets out to study two of the Asteroid Belt’s protoplanets, Vesta and Ceres, in order to look into the early stages of the solar system by examining the detailed historic record held by these two asteroids.
Juno is en-route to the largest planet in our solar system to conduct the most detailed of Jupiter to date – exploring the structure of its atmosphere, looking for a solid planetary core and studying other aspects of the gas giant such as its magnetosphere.
LADEE, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, explored the Moon’s thin exosphere and dust environment to answer long standing questions on the formation and evolution of exospheres which will also help understand planetary bodies with exospheres. The spacecraft also demonstrated high-speed laser communications as a pathfinder for future missions, including human flights to distant targets.
The GRAIL spacecraft twins spent one and a half years in orbit around the Moon, keeping a precise formation to be able to look deeply beneath the surface of the Moon. GRAIL solved long-standing mysteries of lunar gravity and revealed previously unknown surface features.