Spacecraft and Space Missions

We learn about space by going there — either in person or by sending spacecraft. During the Space Age humanity has launched dozens of missions, sending orbiters to Mars and wayfarers such as Voyager 1 and 2 and New Horizons on grand odysseys to the farthest reaches of the solar system. We also peer far beyond the Sun’s family of planets, using the Hubble Space Telescope and other high-tech space observatories to look at distant stars and galaxies, stretching our vision to span every wavelength band of light, from radio to gamma ray.

Here you’ll find the news about our endeavors in space. Whether it be the latest planetary mission, a new space telescope, or the future of space exploration, we’ll keep you up to speed on where our spacecraft are and what they’re doing.

Alan Stern awaits New Horizons's launch

New Horizons: Navigating to Pluto

In the first of a series of installments written exclusively for Sky & Telescope, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern offers his behind-the-scenes perspective on what it took to get the spacecraft to Pluto.

Comet 67P's terrain types

Rosetta Reveals Much About Comet 67P

Once the Rosetta spacecraft arrived at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last August, European scientists used an array of instruments to assess every nook and cranny of the remarkable two-lobed nucleus.

Rosetta’s lander Philae is safely on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as these first two CIVA images confirm. One of the lander’s three feet can be seen in the foreground. The image is a two-image mosaic. The full panoramic from CIVA will be delivered in this afternoon’s press briefing at 13:00 GMT/14:00 CET.
Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Rosetta Update: Philae Landed in a Hole

The exact location of Philae’s landing site remains unknown, though the site’s topography might allow the lander to operate longer than planned. Meanwhile, Rosetta is detecting organics and heavy elements even when Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko is far from the Sun.

Hayabusa 2 spacecraft

Hayabusa 2 is Asteroid Bound

Japan's second asteroid-sample mission launched successfully on December 3rd after weather delays. If successful it will reach asteroid 1999 JU3 in 2018, explore for 18 months, and then return to Earth with souvenirs.