List of minor planets and comets visited by spacecraft

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

List of minor planets visited by spacecraft[edit]

Since the 1990s, a total of 13 minor planets – currently all of them are asteroids and dwarf planets – have been visited by space probes. Note that moons (not directly orbiting the Sun), comets and planets are not minor planets and thus are not included in the table below.

In addition to the listed objects, three asteroids have been imaged by spacecraft at distances too large to resolve features (over 100,000 km), and are hence not considered as "visited". Asteroid 132524 APL was imaged by New Horizons in 2006 at a distance of 101,867 km, 2685 Masursky by Cassini in 2000 at a distance of 1,600,000 km, and 307 Nike by Pioneer 10 in 1972 at a distance of 8,800,000 km. The Hubble Space Telescope, a spacecraft in Earth orbit, has imaged several large asteroids, including 2 Pallas and 3 Juno.

Minor planet Space probe
Name Image Dimensions
(km)
(a)
Discovery
year
Name Closest approach Remarks
year in km in radii(b)
1 Ceres
PIA19562-Ceres-DwarfPlanet-Dawn-RC3-image19-20150506.jpg
952 1801 Dawn 2015–present 200
approx.
(planned)
0.42 first "close up" picture of Ceres taken in December 2014; probe 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 1807 Dawn 2011–2012 200
approx.
0.76 space probe broke orbit on 5 September 2012 and headed to Ceres; 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 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 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 1885 NEAR Shoemaker 1997 1,212 49.5 flyby; largest asteroid visited by a spacecraft at the time
433 Eros
Eros - PIA02923 (color).jpg
34×11×11 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 1916 Galileo 1991 1,600 262 flyby; first asteroid visited by a spacecraft
2867 Šteins
2867 Šteins by Rosetta (reprocessed).png
4.6 1969 Rosetta 2008 800 302 flyby; first asteroid visited by the ESA
4179 Toutatis
Toutatis from Chang'e 2.jpg
4.5×~2 1934 Chang'e 2 2012 3.2 0.70 flyby;[1] closest asteroid flyby, first asteroid visited by a Chinese probe
5535 Annefrank
Stardust - Annefrank.jpg
4.0 1942 Stardust 2002 3,079 1230 flyby
9969 Braille
PIA01345.jpg
2.2×0.6 1992 Deep Space 1 1999 26 12.7 flyby; followed by flyby of Comet Borrelly; failure, missed it during flyby
25143 Itokawa
Hayabausa Image of the asteroid Itokawa.jpg
0.5×0.3×0.2 1998 Hayabusa 2005 0 0 landed; returned dust samples to Earth in 2010 - first sample return mission from asteroid; smallest asteroid visited by a spacecraft, first asteroid visited by a non-NASA spacecraft
134340 Pluto
Nh-pluto-in-true-color 2x JPEG-edit.jpg
2,370 1930 New Horizons 2015 12,500 10.5 flyby; first trans-Neptunian object visited, most distant object visited by a spacecraft
Notes:
a A minor planet's dimensions may be described by x, y, and z axes instead of an (average) diameter due to its non-spherical, irregular shape.
b Closest approach given in multiples of the minor planet's mean radius
 ·  Default order of list: by the minor planet's designation, ascending.

List of comets visited by spacecraft[edit]

Comet Space probe
Name Image Dimensions
(km)
(a)
Discovery
year
Name Closest approach Remarks
year in km in radii(b)
Giacobini–Zinner
Comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner.jpg
2 1900 ICE 1985 7,800 7,800 first flyby of comet
Halley
Lspn comet halley.jpg
15×9 Known
since
antiquity
Vega 1 1986 8,889 1,620 flyby
Vega 2 1986 8,030 1,460 flyby
Suisei 1986 151,000 27,450 distant flyby
Sakigake 1986 6,990,000 1,270,747 distant flyby
Giotto 1986 596 108 flyby; first direct images of a comet nucleus
Grigg–Skjellerup
Grigg-Skjellerup Eso9209a.jpg
2.6 1902 Giotto 1992 200 154 flyby
Borrelly
Comet Borrelly Nucleus.jpg
8×4×4 1904 Deep Space 1 2001 2,171 814 flyby; closest approach in September 2001 when probe entered the comet's coma[2]
Wild 2
Wild2 3.jpg
5.5×4.0×3.3 1978 Stardust 2004 240 113 flyby; first sample return mission from comet to Earth (2006)
Tempel 1
PIA02142 Tempel 1 bottom sharped.jpg
7.6×4.9 1867 Deep Impact 2005 500 80 flyby; delivered an impactor
Deep Impact's impactor vehicle 2005 0 0 first landing on a comet (blasted a crater)
Stardust 2011 181 57.9 flyby; imaged the crater created by Deep Impact
C/2006 P1  ? 2006 Ulysses 2007 260 million  ? unexpected ride through the comet's tail; detected complex chemistry; solar wind speed was halved
Hartley 2
Comet Hartley 2.jpg
1.4 1986 EPOXI
(was Deep Impact)
2010 700 1,000 flyby; smallest comet visited
Churyumov–Gerasimenko
Comet 67P on 19 September 2014 NavCam mosaic.jpg
4.1×3.3×1.8 1969 Rosetta 2014 6 3.91
5.37
first orbiter of comet (November 2014); in orbit as of 2015; OSIRIS captured image with 11 cm/px-resolution in Spring 2015[3]
Philae
(Rosetta's lander)
2014 0 0 first soft landing on a comet (November 2014)
Notes:
(a) Due to a non-spherical, irregular shape, a comet's x, y, and z axes instead of an (average) diameter are often used to describe its dimensions.
(b) Closest approach given in multiples of the comet's (average mean) radius
 ·  List ordered in descending order by a comet's first visit

Spacecraft visited by comets[edit]

Comet C/2013 A1 passed close by Mars in October 2014, closer than the Moon is to Earth.[4] As of early 2014 it was calculated to pass as close as 0.00087 AU (130,000 km; 81,000 mi).[4] This was so close that the event was deemed dangerous to spacecraft in orbit around Mars.[5] 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.

Planned visits[edit]

List of minor planets targeted for spacecraft visitation[edit]

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

Name Diameter
(km)
Discovered Spacecraft Country Year(s) Notes
2014 MU69 25–45 June 26, 2014 New Horizons  USA 2019 Flyby – 1 January 2019[6]
65803 Didymos ~1 (+.15) April 11, 1996 AIDA  ESA 2022[7][8] Proposal
101955 Bennu ~0.5 September 11, 1999 OSIRIS-REx  USA 2020 Future planned landing
162173 Ryugu ~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 Notes
Siwa, 140140 Siwa 103 October 13, 1874 Rosetta 2007 abandoned target
Adeona, 145145 Adeona 151 June 3, 1875 Dawn 2016 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 n.a. September 28, 1935 NEAR 1998 abandoned target
Shipka, 25302530 Shipka n.a. July 9, 1978 Rosetta 2007 abandoned target
Rodari, 27032703 Rodari n.a. March 29, 1979 Rosetta 2007 abandoned target
McAuliffe, 33523352 McAuliffe 2–5 February 6, 1981 Deep Space 1 1998 abandoned target
Mimistrobell, 38403840 Mimistrobell n.a. 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 n.a. June 29, 1989 Hayabusa 2002 abandoned target
(163249) 2002 GT n.a. 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 [9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chang'E 2 images of Toutatis – December 13, 2012 – The Planetary Society
  2. ^ "Deep Space 1 – NSSDC/COSPAR ID: 1998-061A". NASA. 26 August 2014. Retrieved July 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ "Rosetta Spacecraft Sees Its Shadow on a Comet (Photo)". Space.com. 5 March 2015. Rosetta flew just 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) from Comet 67P's surface, resulting in a resolution of 4.3 inches (11 centimeters) per pixel [for OSIRIS]. 
  4. ^ a b "JPL Close-Approach Data: C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring)". 2014-02-09. Retrieved 2013-02-19. last obs (arc=493 days w/619 obs) 
  5. ^ Grossman, Lisa (6 December 2013). "Fiercest meteor shower on record to hit Mars via comet". New Scientist. Archived from the original on 2013-12-12. 
  6. ^ Talbert, Tricia. "NASA's New Horizons Team Selects Potential Kuiper Belt Flyby Target". www.nasa.gov. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA) study.
  8. ^ Miriam Kramer (26 March 2013). "Asteroid Deflection Mission AIDA Set To Crash Two Spacecraft Into Space Rock In 2022". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  9. ^ http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2015/05081421-procyon-failure.html