Encyclopedia Astronautica
Outer planets


Category of spacecraft.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Spacecraft
  • Pioneer 10-11 American outer planets probe. 2 launches, 1972.03.03 (Pioneer 10) to 1973.04.06 (Pioneer 11). Pioneers 10 and 11 were the first spacecraft to fly by Jupiter (Pioneer 10 and 11) and Saturn (Pioneer 11 only). More...
  • Voyager American outer planets probe. 2 launches, 1977.08.20 (Voyager 2) and 1977.09.05 (Voyager 1). The twin Voyager spacecraft were designed to perform close-up observations of the atmospheres, magnetospheres, rings, and satellites of Jupiter and Saturn. More...
  • Galileo American outer planets probe. One launch, 1989.10.18. The Galileo Jupiter orbiter was designed to perform in-depth studies of the giant planet's atmosphere, satellites, and surrounding magnetosphere. More...
  • Galileo Probe American outer planets probe. One launch, 1989.10.18. Jupiter atmospheric probe; deployed from Galileo 7/13/95; entered Jupiter atmosphere 12/7/95. More...
  • Ulysses European solar satellite. One launch, 1990.10.06. Ulysses was a joint NASA / ESA mission designed to study the polar regions of the Sun. More...
  • Huygens European outer planets probe. One launch, 1997.10.15. Titan landing probe; attached to Cassini spacecraft. More...
  • Cassini American outer planets probe. 2 launches, 1997.10.15 (Cassini) and (Huygens). The Cassini spacecraft was a scientific platform designed to perform an in-depth study of the Saturnian system. More...
  • New Horizons American outer planets probe. One launch, 2006.01.19. New Horizons was the first spacecraft targeted on Pluto, the last unvisited body of the nine original planets known at the beginning of the space age. Pluto Flyby. More...

Outer planets Chronology


1972 March 3 - . 01:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-27 / Centaur D-1A 5007C.
  • Pioneer 10 - . Payload: Pioneer F. Mass: 259 kg (570 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 10-11. USAF Sat Cat: 5860 . COSPAR: 1972-012A. Jupiter flyby December 1973; first man-made object to leave solar system. The spacecraft achieved its closest approach to Jupiter on December 3, 1973, when it reached approximately 2.8 Jovian radii (about 200,000 km). As of Jan. 1, 1997 Pioneer 10 was at about 67 AU from the Sun near the ecliptic plane and heading outward from the Sun at 2.6 AU/year and downstream through the heliomagnetosphere towards the tail region and interstellar space. Additional Details: here....

1973 April 6 - . 02:11 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3D. LV Configuration: SLV-3D Centaur AC-30 / Centaur D-1AR 5011D.
  • Pioneer 11 - . Payload: Pioneer G. Mass: 259 kg (570 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 10-11. USAF Sat Cat: 6421 . COSPAR: 1973-019A. Jupiter flyby December 1974; Saturn flyby September 1979. Solar system escape trajectory. Pioneer 11 was the second mission to investigate Jupiter and the outer solar system and the first to explore the planet Saturn and its main rings. Pioneer 11, like Pioneer 10, used Jupiter's gravitational field to alter its trajectory radically. It passed close to Saturn and then it followed an escape trajectory from the solar system. During its closest approach, December 4, 1974, Pioneer 11 passed to within 34,000 km of Jupiter's cloud tops. It passed by Saturn on September 1, 1979, at a distance of 21,000 km from Saturn's cloud tops. The spacecraft has operated on a backup transmitter since launch. Instrument power sharing began in February 1985 due to declining RTG power output. Science operations and daily telemetry ceased on September 30, 1995 when the RTG power level was insufficient to operate any experiments. As of the end of 1995 the spacecraft was located at 44.7 AU from the Sun at a nearly asymptotic latitude of 17.4 degrees above the solar equatorial plane and was heading outward at 2.5 AU/year. Routine tracking and project data processing operations were terminated on March 31, 1997 for budget reasons.

1977 August 20 - . 14:29 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC41. LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan 3E. LV Configuration: Titan IIIE 23E-7 / Centaur D-1T E-7.
  • Voyager 2 - . Payload: Voyager 2 [Star-37E]. Mass: 800 kg (1,760 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: JPL. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: Voyager. USAF Sat Cat: 10271 . COSPAR: 1977-076A. Summary: Jupiter flyby 7/9/79, Saturn flyby 8/26/81, Uranus flyby 1/24/86, Neptune flyby 8/25/89. Solar system escape trajectory. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B)..

1977 September 5 - . 12:56 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC41. LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan 3E. LV Configuration: Titan IIIE 23E-6 / Centaur D-1T E-6.
  • Voyager 1 - . Payload: Voyager 1 [Star-37E]. Mass: 800 kg (1,760 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: JPL. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: Voyager. USAF Sat Cat: 10321 . COSPAR: 1977-084A. Summary: Jupiter flyby 3/5/79, Saturn flyby 11/12/80. Solar system escape trajectory. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B)..

1989 October 18 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-34R.
  • Galileo Probe - . Mass: 339 kg (747 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: Galileo Probe. COSPAR: 1989-084E. Summary: Atmospheric probe; deployed from Galileo 7/13/95; entered Jupiter atmosphere 12/7/95. Entry into Jupiter Dec 7.
  • Galileo - . Payload: Atlantis F5 / Galileo [IUS]. Mass: 3,881 kg (8,556 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; JPL. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: Galileo. USAF Sat Cat: 20298 . COSPAR: 1989-084B. Deployed from STS-34 18 October 1989; entered Jupiter orbit 7 December 1995 and conducted investigations of Jupiter's moons, atmosphere, and magnetosphere. Although the antenna failed to deploy, NASA developed workarounds and the spacecraft cruised the Jovian system for eight years. Its propellant then depleted, it was maneuvered to enter the Jovian atmosphere on September 21, 2003, at 18:57 GMT. Entry was at 48.2 km/s from an orbit with a periapsis 9700 km below the 1-bar atmospheric layer. The spacecraft continued transmitting at least until it passed behind the limb of Jupiter at 1850:54 GMT, at which point it was 9283 km above the 1-bar level, surprising Galileo veterans who feared it might enter safemode due to the high radiation environment. On its farewell dive, it had crossed the orbit of Callisto at around 1100 on September 20, the orbit of Ganymede at around 0500 on September 21, Europa's orbit at about 1145, Io's orbit at about 1500, Amalthea's orbit at 1756, and the orbits of Adrastea and Metis at 1825. Galileo was destroyed to prevent the possibility that its orbit would eventually be perturbed in such a way that it would crash on and biologically contaminate Europa, which was considered a possible place to search for life. Light travel time from Jupiter to Earth was 52 min 20 sec at the time of impact, and the final signal reached Earth at 1943:14 GMT.

1997 October 15 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC40. LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan Centaur 401B. LV Configuration: Titan 401B B-33 /Centaur (45E-13).
  • Cassini - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Manufacturer: JPL. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: Cassini. USAF Sat Cat: 25008 . COSPAR: 1997-061A. Summary: En route Venus.

2006 January 19 - . 19:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC41. Launch Pad: SLC41. LV Family: Atlas V. Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 551. LV Configuration: Atlas V 551 AV-010 / Star-48.
  • New Horizons - . Mass: 478 kg (1,053 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; JPL. Manufacturer: APL. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: New Horizons. USAF Sat Cat: 28928 . COSPAR: 2006-001A. Last robotic mission to an unexplored planet in our solar system. New Horizons was due to receive a gravity boost from Jupiter in February 2007, then fly by Pluto in 2015. During launch toward Jupiter it reached a higher velocity than any manmade object, and was the first to be boosted directly to solar escape velocity. The trajectory had a perihelion of 0.98 AU, an inclination of 0.87 deg and an eccentricity of 1.03. After the Jupiter encounter it was to have a perihelion of 2.2 AU, an inclination of 2.3 deg and an eccentricity of 1.40. At encounter with Pluto on July 14, 2015, the spacecraft would be 1.1 AU above the ecliptic plane and 32.9 AU from the Sun, leaving the solar system toward the star Xi Sgr.

2011 August 5 - . 16:25 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC41. Launch Pad: SLC41. LV Family: Atlas V. Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 551.
  • Juno - . Nation: USA. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: Juno. USAF Sat Cat: 37773 . COSPAR: 2011-040A. Accelerated by the AV-029 Centaur to a hyperbolic escape orbit at 17:15 GMT into a 1.0 AU x 2.26 AU x 0.1 deg solar orbit. A 500-km flyby of Earth on 9 October 2013 will pump this orbit towards Jupiter. It is planned to enter Jovian orbit in July 2016, and be commaned to bun up in Jupiter's atmosphere in October 2017. Payloads included magnetometers, plasma and particle instruments, UV auroral imagers and spectrometers, and the JunoCam imager. The probe has a mass of 1593 kg and carries a further 2032 kg of propellant. Its three large solar arrays span around 22 meters; it is the first spacecraft to fly to the outer solar system without radioisotope power sources.

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