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.

Artist's rendering of Mars 2020 rover.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA Gears Up for Mars 2020 Rover

Six years from now, there will be a new NASA robot heading to the Red Planet: the Mars 2020 rover. On July 31st mission planners unveiled the rover’s seven scientific instruments, which will pave the way for human exploration of Mars.

New Horizons visits Pluto in 2015

One Year Until New Horizons

New Horizons will reach Pluto a year from today, and the scientific community is abuzz with speculation about what the space probe might see when it gets there. Meanwhile, the New Horizons team scours the skies for a Kuiper Belt Object that New Horizons can visit after its Pluto flyby.

Comet-chasing spacecraft ISEE 3

35-year-old ISEE 3 Craft Phones Home

Although its scientific work for NASA ended in the early 1980s, the International Sun-Earth Explorer never quite died — and this week it was revived by a team of volunteers intent on letting it continue exploring interplanetary space.

LADEE over the Moon

LADEE Skims the Moon Before Crash

NASA has a fully functioning spacecraft orbiting the Moon, all science goals completed, and a lunar eclipse coming up. It's a perfect opportunity to make some risky but potentially rewarding swoops within 2 miles of the lunar surface.

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Interactive Mosaic of Moon’s North Pole

With the first interactive lunar north pole mosaic released by the NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team you can explore an area of the Moon’s northern hemisphere about the size of Alaska and Texas combined.

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Satellite Lost and Found in Space

SkyCube, a crowd-funded nanosatellite built to engage the public in space exploration, has been deployed from the International Space Station. Now its creators are anxiously waiting to establish two-way contact.

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A Meteorite Lights up the Lunar Night

Astronomers have witnessed the largest lunar impact to date. With an impact energy equivalent to 15 tons of TNT — approximately 3 times as great as the previous record-holder — the flash was visible even to the naked-eye.

Apollo 14 retroreflectors

Pesky Problems for Lunar Reflectors

For more than 40 years, astronomers have been firing lasers at specially-designed reflectors left on the lunar surface. But over time they've gotten dusty — and especially finicky whenever there's a full Moon.