List of minor planets and comets visited by spacecraft

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The dwarf planet Ceres as viewed by the Dawn spacecraft on 19 March 2015

The following tables list all minor planets and comets that have been visited by spacecraft.

List of minor planets visited by spacecraft[edit]

Name Image1 Diameter
(km)
Discovered Spacecraft Year(s) Closest
approach
(km)
closest
approach
(asteroid radii)
Notes Landmark(s)
1 Ceres
PIA19179-Ceres-DawnSpacecraft-20150204.jpg
952 January 1, 1801 Dawn 2014–present approx. 200 (planned) 0.42 Dawn took its first "close up" picture of Ceres in December 2014, and entered orbit in March 2015 First dwarf planet visited by a spacecraft, largest asteroid visited by a spacecraft
4 Vesta
Vesta full mosaic.jpg
529 March 29, 1807 Dawn 2011–2012 approx. 200 0.76 Dawn broke orbit on 5 September 2012 and headed to Ceres, where it arrived in March 2015 First "big four" asteroid visited by a spacecraft, largest asteroid visited by a spacecraft at the time
21 Lutetia
Rosetta triumphs at asteroid Lutetia.jpg
120×100×80 November 15, 1852 Rosetta 2010 3,162 64.9 Flyby on 10 July 2010 Largest asteroid visited by a spacecraft at the time
243 Ida
243 ida crop.jpg
56×24×21 September 29, 1884 Galileo 1993 2,390 152 Flyby; discovered Dactyl First asteroid with a moon visited by a spacecraft, largest asteroid visited by spacecraft at the time
253 Mathilde
(253) mathilde crop.jpg
66×48×46 November 12, 1885 NEAR Shoemaker 1997 1,212 49.5 Flyby Largest asteroid visited by a spacecraft at the time
433 Eros
WholeEros.jpg
13×13×33 August 13, 1898 NEAR Shoemaker 1998–2001 0 0 1998 flyby; 2000 orbited (first asteroid studied from orbit); 2001 landing First asteroid landing, first asteroid orbited by a spacecraft, first near-Earth asteroid (NEA) visited by a spacecraft
951 Gaspra
951 Gaspra.jpg
18.2×10.5×8.9 July 30, 1916 Galileo 1991 1,600 262 Flyby first asteroid visited by a spacecraft
2867 Šteins
2867 Šteins by Rosetta (reprocessed).png
4.6 November 4, 1969 Rosetta 2008 800 302 Flyby First asteroid visited by the ESA
4179 Toutatis
Toutatis from Chang'e 2.jpg
4.5×~2 February 10, 1934 Chang'e 2 2012 3.2 0.70 Flyby[1] Closest asteroid flyby, first asteroid visited by China
5535 Annefrank
Asteroid 5535 Annefrank.jpg
4.0 March 23, 1942 Stardust 2002 3,079 1230 Flyby
9969 Braille 2.2×0.6 May 27, 1992 Deep Space 1 1999 26 12.7 Flyby; followed by flyby of Comet Borrelly
25143 Itokawa 0.5×0.3×0.2 September 26, 1998 Hayabusa 2005 0 0 Landed; returned dust samples to Earth First asteroid with returned samples, smallest asteroid visited by a spacecraft, first asteroid visited by a non-NASA spacecraft
  1. Those without images either only have non-free images (Itokawa) or very-low-resolution images (Braille).

In addition to these asteroids, two asteroids have been imaged by spacecraft at distances too large to be able to resolve features (over 100,000 km), and thus not described as "visited". Asteroid 132524 APL was imaged by the New Horizons probe in 2006 at a distance of 101,867 km, and 2685 Masursky by the Cassini in 2000 at a distance of 1,600,000 km. The Hubble Space Telescope, which is a spacecraft in Earth orbit, has imaged several large asteroids, including 2 Pallas and 3 Juno.

List of minor planets targeted for spacecraft visitation[edit]

The following table lists minor planets that are planned to be visited by spacecraft. Dwarf planets are also included.

Name Diameter
(km)
Discovered Spacecraft Country Year(s) Notes
134340 Pluto 2344 February 18, 1930 New Horizons  USA 2015 Flyby – July 2015 (dwarf planet)
101955 Bennu ~0.5 September 11, 1999 OSIRIS-REx  USA 2020 Future planned landing
65803 Didymos ~1 (+.15) April 11, 1996 AIDA  EU 2022[2][3] Proposal
(162173) 1999 JU3 ~1 May 10, 1999 Hayabusa 2  Japan 2018 Orbit expected June 2018 – December 2019. Several landers and sample collecting touchdowns planned.

Asteroids that come to close enough to Earth can sometimes be observed, such as 4769 Castalia. See List of asteroid close approaches to Earth.

List of minor planets formerly targeted for spacecraft visitation[edit]

Former targets (were at one time proposed as a target).

Name Diameter
(km)
Discovered Spacecraft Year(s) Notes
Siwa, 140140 Siwa 103 October 13, 1874 Rosetta 2007 Abandoned target
Hamburga, 449449 Hamburga 86 October 31, 1899 CRAF 1998 Mission cancelled
Geographos, 16201620 Geographos 5.1×1.8 September 14, 1951 Clementine 1995 Abandoned target
van Albada, 20192019 van Albada   September 28, 1935 NEAR 1998 Abandoned target
Shipka, 25302530 Shipka   July 9, 1978 Rosetta 2007 Abandoned target
Rodari, 27032703 Rodari   March 29, 1979 Rosetta 2007 Abandoned target
McAuliffe, 33523352 McAuliffe 2–5 February 6, 1981 Deep Space 1 1998 Abandoned target
Mimistrobell, 38403840 Mimistrobell   October 9, 1980 Rosetta 2007 Abandoned target
Wilson–Harrington, 40154015 Wilson–Harrington 4 November 19, 1949 Deep Space 1
Hayabusa Mk2
1999
2022
Abandoned target, also a comet
Mission cancelled
Nereus, 46604660 Nereus ~1 February 28, 1982 NEAR
NEAP
Hayabusa
1997 Abandoned target
Mission cancelled
Abandoned target
Otawara, 49794979 Otawara 5.5 August 2, 1949 Rosetta 2007 Abandoned target
(10302) 1989 ML   June 29, 1989 Hayabusa 2002 Abandoned target
(163249) 2002 GT   April 3, 2002 Deep Impact 2020 Communications with spacecraft lost
(185851) 2000 DP107 ~0.8 February 29, 2000 PROCYON 2016 Abandoned target, ion engine failure [4]

List of comets visited by spacecraft[edit]

Name Diameter Discovered
(km)
Spacecraft Year(s) Closest
approach
(km)
Closest
approach
(comet radii)
Notes
Giacobini–Zinner 2 1900 ICE 1985 7800 7800 Flyby
Halley 15×9 Known since antiquity Vega 1 1986 8889 1620 Flyby
Vega 2 1986 8030 1460 Flyby
Suisei 1986 151000 27450 Distant flyby
Giotto 1986 596 108 Flyby
Grigg–Skjellerup 2.6 1902 Giotto 1992 200 154 Flyby
Borrelly 8×4×4 1904 Deep Space 1 2001 2171[5] 814 Flyby
Wild 2 5.5×4.0×3.3 1978 Stardust 2004 240 113 Flyby; returned samples to Earth
Tempel 1 7.6×4.9 1867 Deep Impact 2005 0 0 Flyby; blasted a crater using an impactor
Hartley 2 1.4 1986 EPOXI
(was Deep Impact)
2010 700 1000 Flyby; smallest comet visited
Tempel 1 7.6×4.9 1867 Stardust 2011 181 57.9 Flyby; imaged the crater created by Deep Impact
Churyumov–Gerasimenko 4.1×3.3×1.8
2.6×2.3×1.8
1969 Rosetta 2014 6[6] 3.91
5.37
Currently in orbit
Philae (Rosetta's lander) 2014 0 0 Landed[7]

Spacecraft visited by comets[edit]

Comet Siding Spring encountered Mars on 19 October 2014

Comet C/2013 A1 passed close by Mars in October 2014, closer than the Moon is to Earth. [8] As of early 2014 it was calculated to pass as close as 0.00087 AU (130,000 km; 81,000 mi).[8] This was so close that the event was deemed dangerous to spacecraft in orbit around Mars.[9] Spacecraft that were active at that time included 2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, MAVEN, Mars Orbiter Mission, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in Mars orbit – and two on the surface – Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity.

References[edit]