List of missions to minor planets

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As of 2013, the United States, Japan, the European Space Agency and the People's Republic of China have conducted missions to minor planets. All missions to date which have reached their targets have been to asteroids, however the Dawn and New Horizons spacecraft are en route to the dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto respectively, and are expected to arrive in 2015.

Spacecraft visits to minor planets have mostly been flybys, and have ranged from dedicated missions to incidental flybys and targets of opportunity for spacecraft which have already completed their missions. The first spacecraft to visit an asteroid was Galileo, which flew past (951) Gaspra in October 1991; an incidental encounter while the probe was en route to Jupiter. The first dedicated mission was NEAR Shoemaker, which was launched in February 1996, and entered orbit around (433) Eros in February 2000 having first flown past (253) Mathilde. NEAR was also the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid, surviving what was intended to be an impact with Eros at 20:01 on 12 February 2001 at the planned end of its mission. As a result of its unexpected survival, the spacecraft's mission was extended until 1 March to allow data to be collected from the surface.

As of 2013, no missions have visited dwarf planets. The first mission launched to explore a dwarf planet is New Horizons, which will reach Pluto in July 2015; at the time of its launch in January 2006, Pluto was still considered a planet. Dawn (spacecraft) was launched after New Horizons, but will reach Ceres in February 2015.

Spacecraft Launch Date[1] Minor planet Mission Outcome Remarks Carrier rocket[2]
Galileo1 18 October 19891 (951) Gaspra Flyby N/A Incidental flyby en route to Jupiter; flyby occurred on 29 October 1991 with closest approach of 1,604 kilometres (997 mi) at 22:37 UTC[3] Space Shuttle Atlantis
STS-34 / IUS
Galileo2 18 October 19892 (243) Ida Flyby N/A Incidental flyby en route to Jupiter, discovered Dactyl; flyby occurred on 28 August 1993 with closest approach of 2,410 kilometres (1,500 mi) at 16:51:59 UTC[3] Space Shuttle Atlantis
STS-34 / IUS
Clementine
(DSPSE)
25 January 1994 (1620) Geographos Flyby 1Spacecraft failure Attitude control failure; failed to leave geocentric orbit after first phase of mission exploring the Moon. Flyby had been planned for August 1994[4] Titan II(23)G
NEAR Shoemaker
(Discovery 2)1
17 February 19961 (253) Mathilde Flyby 4Successful Closest approach 1,212 kilometres (753 mi) at 12:56 UTC on 27 June 1997[5] Delta II 7925
NEAR Shoemaker
(Discovery 2)2
17 February 19962 (433) Eros Orbiter 3Mostly successful Aborted burn three days before arrival at Eros resulted in failure to enter orbit, instead flew past at 3,827 kilometres (2,378 mi) at 18:41:23 on 23 December 1998. Insertion reattempted successfully on 14 February 2000. Impacted asteroid at 20:01 on 12 February 2001 at end of mission, but survived impact and continued to operate on surface until 1 March.[5] Delta II 7925
Cassini–Huygens 15 October 1997[1] (2685) Masursky Flyby N/A Distant incidental flyby en route to Saturn; closest approach 1.5 million kilometres (0.9 million miles) at 09:58 UTC on 23 January 2000[6] Titan IV(401)B Centaur-T[7]
Deep Space 1 1 24 October 19981 (4015) Wilson–Harrington[8] Flyby 1Spacecraft failure Spacecraft was unable to reach the asteroid due to ion engine operation being suspended while a problem with the probe's star tracker was investigated[9] Delta II 7326
Deep Space 1 2 24 October 19982 (9969) Braille Flyby 2Partial failure Closest approach 28.3 kilometres (17.6 mi) at 04:46 UTC[9] on 29 July 1999. Intended to pass within 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) but this was not achieved due to a computer failure, poor quality images returned as a result.[10] Flyby added to mission following loss of ability to reach Wilson–Harrington Delta II 7326
Stardust
(Discovery 4)
7 February 1999 (5535) Annefrank[11] Flyby 4Successful Closest approach of 3,079 kilometres (1,913 mi) at 04:50:20 UTC on 2 November 2002 Delta II 7426
Hayabusa
(MUSES-C)
9 May 2003 (25143) Itokawa Orbiter/Lander
Sample return
2Partial failure Reached Itokawa on 12 September 2005, landed briefly on 19 and 25 November but sampler failed to operate, missed return window due to communications outage, finally returned to Earth on 13 June 2010 M-V
Minerva 9 May 2003 (25143) Itokawa Lander 1Spacecraft failure Deployed from Hayabusa on 12 November 2005; Accidentally released while Hayabusa was moving away from the asteroid, reached escape velocity and drifted off into heliocentric orbit M-V
Rosetta1 2 March 20041 (2867) Šteins Flyby 4Successful Closest approach 800 kilometres (500 mi) on 5 September 2008 Ariane 5G+
Rosetta2 2 March 20042 (21) Lutetia Flyby 4Successful Closest approach 3,162 kilometres (1,965 mi) on 10 July 2010 Ariane 5G+
Deep Impact
(Discovery 7)
12 January 2005 (163249) 2002 GT Flyby 1Canceled Extended mission (EPOXI), flyby was expected in 2020, but communication with the spacecraft was lost in August 2013 Delta II 7925
New Horizons
(New Frontiers 1)1
19 January 20061 (132524) APL Flyby N/A Incidental flyby en route to Pluto, closest approach 101,867 kilometres (63,297 mi) at 04:05 UTC on 13 June 2006 Atlas V 551
New Horizons
(New Frontiers 1)2
19 January 20062 (134340) Pluto Flyby 5En route Flyby expected in 2015. Pluto still designated a planet at time of launch Atlas V 551
Dawn
(Discovery 9)1
27 September 20071 (4) Vesta Orbiter 4Successful Orbited Vesta from 16 July 2011 to 5 September 2012, before departing for Ceres Delta II 7925H
Dawn
(Discovery 9)2
27 September 20072 (1) Ceres Orbiter 5En route Expected to arrive in 2015 Delta II 7925H
Chang'e-2 1 October 2010 (4179) Toutatis Flyby 4Successful Flyby on 13 December 2012, closest approach 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) Chang Zheng 3C

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Interplanetary Probes". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Solar System Exploration - Galileo - Read More". NASA. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "Solar System Exploration - Clementine - Read More". NASA. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Solar System Exploration - NEAR Shoemaker - Read More". NASA. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Solar System Exploration - Cassini - Read More". NASA. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  7. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Cassini". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Wilson-Harrington is catalogued as both a comet and an asteroid
  9. ^ a b "Solar System Exploration - Deep Space 1 - Read More". NASA. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  10. ^ Rayman, Marc D.; Varghese, Philip (2001). "The Deep Space 1 Extended Mission". Acta Astronautica 48 (5-12): 693–705. doi:10.1016/s0094-5765(01)00044-3. 
  11. ^ "STARDUST Successfully Images Asteroid Annefrank During Dress Rehearsal". NASA. 4 November 2002. Retrieved 23 April 2013.