List of minor planets and comets visited by spacecraft

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Number of minor planets and comets visited by spacecraft

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

List of minor planets visited by spacecraft[edit]

Since the 1990s, a total of 16 minor planets (asteroids, dwarf planets, and Kuiper belt objects) have been visited by space probes. In addition to the listed objects, four asteroids have been imaged by spacecraft at distances too large to resolve features (over 100,000 km), and are labeled as such. Moons (not directly orbiting the Sun) and planets are not minor planets and thus are not included in the table below.

Minor planet Space probe
Name Image Dimensions
(km)
(a)
Discovery
year
Name Closest approach Remarks
year in km in radii(b)
1 Ceres
Ceres - RC3 - Haulani Crater (22381131691) (cropped).jpg
952 1801 Dawn 2015–2018 35 0.07 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 × 75
(100 km)
1852 Rosetta 2010 3162 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
(28 km)
1884 Galileo 1993 2390 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
(58 km)
1885 NEAR Shoemaker 1997 1212 49.5 Flyby; largest asteroid visited by a spacecraft at the time.
307 Nike 54.96 1891 Pioneer 10 1972 8800000 320,232 Distant incidental flyby.
433 Eros
Eros - PIA02923 (color).jpg
34 × 11 × 11
(17 km)
1898 NEAR Shoemaker 1998–2001 landed landed 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
(12.2 km)
1916 Galileo 1991 1600 262 Flyby; first asteroid visited by a spacecraft.
2685 Masursky
Asteroid 2685Masurky.png
10.744 1981 Cassini–Huygens 2000 1600000 297840 Distant incidental flyby.
2867 Šteins
2867 Šteins by Rosetta (reprocessed).png
4.6 1969 Rosetta 2008 800 302 Flyby; first asteroid visited by the ESA.
4179 Toutatis
Asteroid 4179 Toutatis close-up.jpg
2.45 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 3079 1230 Flyby
9969 Braille
PIA01345 (cropped).jpg
2.2 × 0.6
(1.6 km)
1992 Deep Space 1 1999 26 12.7 Flyby; followed by flyby of Comet Borrelly; failed to image it during closest approach, only taking images 14,000 km from the asteroid.
25143 Itokawa 0.5 × 0.3 × 0.2
(350 meters)
1998 Hayabusa 2005 landed landed 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.
101955 Bennu
BennuAsteroid.jpg
0.490 1999 OSIRIS-REx 2020 landed[2] landed Arrived on 3 December 2018; entered lowest orbit on 12 June 2019; smallest object to be orbited by spacecraft and closest ever orbit;[3][4] touchdown on 20 October 2020 to collect sample.
132524 APL
132524 APL New Horizons.jpg
2.5 2002 New Horizons 2006 101867 81493 Distant incidental flyby.
134340 Pluto
Pluto in True Color - High-Res.jpg
2376 1930 New Horizons 2015 12500 10.5 Flyby; first trans-Neptunian object visited, most distant object visited by a spacecraft (at the time of the visit).
162173 Ryugu
Ryugu colored.jpg
0.865 1999 Hayabusa2 2019 landed landed Rendezvoused with asteroid from June 2018 to November 2019. Successful touchdowns to collect a sample in February and July 2019.[5] Three landers and an explosive impactor successfully deployed to the surface.[6] Returned dust samples to Earth in December 2020.[7]
2012 PM35 0.9-2.5 2012 Dawn 2017 200000 130000 Distant incidental flyby; Approached Ceres to 200,000 km in September 2017 while Dawn was in orbit.
486958 Arrokoth
UltimaThule CA06 color vertical.png
36 × 18 × 10 2014 New Horizons 2019 3500 350 Flew by Arrokoth (nicknamed Ultima Thule) on 1 January 2019, currently farthest object to be visited by a spacecraft.
Unnamed asteroid[8] 0.8 Pioneer 10 1972 8851392 22128480 Distant incidental flyby.
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 a comet
Halley
Lspn comet halley.jpg
15×9 Known
since
1759

(Precovered to 240 BCE)
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
ICE 1986 31,000,000 5,647,000 distant flyby
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[9]
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 landed landed first landing on a comet (blasted a crater)
Stardust 2011 181 57.9 flyby; imaged the crater created by Deep Impact
Hartley 2
Comet Hartley 2.jpg
1.4 1986 EPOXI
(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 2016 landed landed first orbiter of comet (November 2014); impacted surface as of 2016; OSIRIS captured image with 11 cm/px-resolution in Spring 2015[10]
Philae
(Rosetta's lander)
2014 landed landed 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 planet Mars in October 2014, closer than the Moon is to Earth.[11] As of early 2014 it was calculated to pass as close as 0.00087 AU (130,000 km; 81,000 mi).[11] This was so close that the event was deemed dangerous to spacecraft in orbit around Mars.[12] 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.

Future visits[edit]

Planned[edit]

Name Diameter(a)
(km)
Year of
discovery
Spacecraft Year of
visit
Notes
16 Psyche 186 1852 Psyche 2026 Large metallic main-belt asteroid[13]
617 Patroclus 141 1906 Lucy 2033 Binary Jupiter trojan, Trojan camp, 5th-largest Jupiter trojan[14]
3200 Phaethon 5 1983 DESTINY+ 2028 Rock comet and parent body of Geminids meteor shower[15]
3548 Eurybates 72 1973 Lucy 2027 Jupiter trojan with satellite, Greek camp[14]
11351 Leucus 42 1997 Lucy 2028 Jupiter trojan, Greek camp, a slow rotator[14]
15094 Polymele 21 1999 Lucy 2027 Jupiter trojan, Greek camp[14]
21900 Orus 53 1999 Lucy 2028 Jupiter trojan, Greek camp[14]
52246 Donaldjohanson 3.9 1981 Lucy 2025 Main-belt asteroid and member of the Erigone family[16]
65803 Didymos 0.8 1996 DART / LICIACube 2022 Asteroid of a near-Earth Apollo group; a flyby target; its moon being the kinetic impact target to test asteroid deflection[17][18]
65803 Didymos 0.8 1996 Hera 2026 Probe will study the results obtained by the NASA's DART impactor 4 years after its mission.[19]
65803 Didymos I Dimorphos 0.2 2003 DART / LICIACube 2022 Moon of a near-Earth asteroid of the Apollo group; flyby target of one and kinetic impact target of another spacecraft to test asteroid deflection[17][18]
(98943) 2001 CC21 0.7 2001 Hayabusa2# 2026 Near-Earth asteroid of the Apollo group; extended mission target[20]
99942 Apophis 0.370 2004 OSIRIS-APEX 2029 Extended mission after sample delivery[21]
(138971) 2001 CB21 2001 DART / LICIACube 2022 Potential flyby during transit by DART spacecraft.[18][22]
469219 Kamoʻoalewa 0.041 2016 ZhengHe 2025 Co-orbital near-Earth asteroid; sample return target[23]
1998 KY26 0.030 1998 Hayabusa2# 2031 Near-Earth asteroid of the Apollo group; extended mission target[20]
2020 GE 0.018 2020 NEA Scout 2023 Near-Earth asteroid of the Apollo group[24]
311P/PanSTARRS 0.48 2013 ZhengHe 2032 Active asteroid[23]
(a) given diameters are estimates

Proposals[edit]

The following table lists minor planets that are proposed to be visited by spacecraft missions that have not yet been approved.

Name Diameter
(km)
Date of discovery Spacecraft Proposed dates Notes
29P/Schwassmann–Wachmann 65 November 15, 1927 Centaurus Launch: 2026
Flyby: 2030s
A flyby proposal.[25]
50 Virginia 99.8 1857 MANTIS Launch: 2020s
Flyby: 2020s
A flyby proposal of 14 asteroids, the largest being 50 Virginia.
223 Rosa 82.7 1882 JUICE Launch: 2023
Flyby: 2029
A Jupiter orbiter with 223 Rosa as a proposed flyby.[26]
2060 Chiron 271 1977 Centaurus Launch: 2026
Flyby: 2030s
A flyby proposal.[25]
10199 Chariklo 330 1997 Camilla Launch: 2026
Flyby: 2039
A mission concept for a flyby and impactor.[27]
50000 Quaoar 1121 2002 Interstellar Express Launch: 2024
Flyby: 2030s
A Voyager-like mission proposed to be launched in 2024 by the CNSA. A pair of probes would flyby Neptune, Quaoar, and one other KBO.[28][29]
99942 Apophis 0.370 2004 Unnamed CNSA mission Launch: ~2022 Flyby[30]
(153591) 2001 SN263 2.6 2001 ASTER Launch: 2022/2025
Flyby: 2024/2027
Brazilian Space Agency mission to triple near-Earth asteroid system of the Amor group[31]
(175706) 1996 FG3 0.155 1996 Unnamed CNSA mission Launch: ~2022 Sample-return[30]
169P/NEAT 1871 Unnamed CNSA mission Launch: ~2022 Flyby[30]
Trojan asteroids 1906 OKEANOS Launch: 2026 Proposed multiple flyby mission to Jupiter's Trojan asteroids using solar sail propulsion.[32]

Past proposals[edit]

Failed missions[edit]

Former targets for launched spacecraft.

Key
spacecraft failure
mission planning decisions
Name Diameter
(km)
Date of discovery Spacecraft Year Notes
2P/Encke 4.8 January 17, 1786 CONTOUR 1998 Spacecraft lost while leaving Earth orbit[33]
2P/Encke 4.8 January 17, 1786 NEAR 1998 Target changed before launch[34]
4 Vesta 525 March 29, 1807 NEAR 1998 Target changed before launch[34]
6P/d'Arrest 3.2 June 28, 1851 CONTOUR 2008 Spacecraft lost while leaving Earth orbit[33]
21P/Giacobini–Zinner 2 December 20, 1900 Suisei 1998 Extended mission, spacecraft ran out of fuel en route.[35]
46P/Wirtanen 1.2 January 17, 1948 Rosetta 2011 Initial target, was changed due to delay.[36][37]
73P/Schwassmann–Wachmann 1.1 (before breakup) May 2, 1930 CONTOUR 2006 Spacecraft lost while leaving Earth orbit[33]
85D/Boethin January 4, 1975 EPOXI (Deep Impact) 2007 Astronomers were unable to locate the comet, which is too faint to be observed.[38]
140 Siwa 103 October 13, 1874 Rosetta 2007 Target changed due to launch postponement[39]
145 Adeona 151 June 3, 1875 Dawn 2016 Abandoned target (not seriously considered)[40]
1620 Geographos 5.1×1.8 September 14, 1951 Clementine 1995 Mission failed before retargeting
1036 Ganymed 35 October 23, 1924 NEAR 1998 Target changed before launch[34]
2001 AV43 0.03 January 5, 2001 Hayabusa2 2029 Target proposed but not selected[41]
2019 van Albada 7.5-9.4 September 28, 1935 NEAR 1998 Target changed before launch[34]
2101 Adonis 0.6 February 12, 1936 Vega 2 1987 Secondary target; insufficient fuel[42]
2530 Shipka 12.4[43] July 9, 1978 Rosetta 2007 Secondary target; changed for better trajectory[39]
2703 Rodari 9[44] March 29, 1979 Rosetta 2007 Target in early mission planning,[when?] but not chosen[39]
3352 McAuliffe 2–5 February 6, 1981 Deep Space 1 1998 Target changed due to launch postponement
3840 Mimistrobell 5.2[45] October 9, 1980 Rosetta 2007 Target changed[39]
4015 Wilson–Harrington 4 November 19, 1949 NEAR 1998 Target changed before launch[34]
4015 Wilson–Harrington 4 November 19, 1949 Deep Space 1 1999 Target changed due to launch postponement
4660 Nereus ~1 February 28, 1982 NEAR 1997 Target changed before launch[34]
4660 Nereus ~1 February 28, 1982 Hayabusa 2002 Target changed due to launch postponement
4979 Otawara 5.5 August 2, 1949 Rosetta 2007 Target changed due to launch postponement[39]
(5604) 1992 FE 0.6 March 26, 1992 OSIRIS-REx 2018 Secondary target abandoned in 2010 during early mission planning[citation needed]
(10302) 1989 ML 0.6 June 29, 1989 Hayabusa 2002 Target changed due to launch postponement
(35107) 1991 VH 1.04 1991 Janus 2026 Launch delayed, target not available [46]
(163249) 2002 GT 0.35-0.5 April 3, 2002 EPOXI (Deep Impact) 2020 Communications with spacecraft lost
(172034) 2001 WR1 0.66 2001 Hayabusa2 2023 Target proposed for extended mission but not selected.[47]
(175706) 1996 FG3 1.69 1996 Janus 2026 Launch delayed, target not available[46]
(185851) 2000 DP107 ~0.8 February 29, 2000 PROCYON 2016 Ion engine failure in heliocentric orbit[48]

Cancelled or not developed missions[edit]

Name Diameter
(km)
Date of discovery Spacecraft Year Notes
1 Ceres 939 January 1, 1801 Ceres Polar Lander [49]
1 Ceres 939 January 1, 1801 Calathus [50]
2 Pallas 512 1779 Athena 2024
4 Vesta 525 March 29, 1807 AGORA 1990-1994
4 Vesta 525 March 29, 1807 MAOSEP 1990s
4 Vesta 525 March 29, 1807 Vesta 1994
46P/Wirtanen 1.2 January 17, 1948 Comet Hopper 2022 [51]
67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko 4.1×3.3×1.8 September 20, 1969 CAESAR 2024 [52]
67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko 4.1×3.3×1.8 September 20, 1969 CONDOR 2024 Proposed comet sample-return mission.[53]
88P/Howell 4.4 1981 CORSAIR 2024 Proposed comet sample-return mission.[54]
433 Eros 34 × 11 × 11 1898 Clementine 2 1996
449 Hamburga 86 October 31, 1899 CRAF 1998
4015 Wilson–Harrington 4 November 19, 1949 Marco Polo/Hayabusa Mk2 2022
4179 Toutatis 2.45 1934 Clementine 2 1996
4660 Nereus ~1 February 28, 1982 NEAP 1997
7968 Elst–Pizarro or 133P/Elst–Pizarro ~0.6 July 24, 1979 Castalia 2028 [55]
25143 Itokawa 0.5 × 0.3 × 0.2 1998 Asteroid Redirect Mission 2021 [56]
47171 Lempo 0.272 October 1, 1999 New Horizons 2 [57]
66652 Borasisi ~0.1 September 8, 1999 New Horizons 2 [58]
99942 Apophis 0.37 June 19, 2004 Don Quijote 2015 [59]
101955 Bennu 0.490 1999 Asteroid Redirect Mission 2021 [56]
101955 Bennu 0.490 1999 HAMMER [60]
134340 Pluto 2376 February 18, 1930 Pluto Kuiper Express 2004 [61]
162173 Ryugu 0.9 May 10, 1999 Marco Polo 2018-2020
162173 Ryugu 0.9 May 10, 1999 Asteroid Redirect Mission 2021 [62]
2001 SG286 Marco Polo 2018-2020
2001 SK162 Marco Polo 2018-2020
(55637) 2002 UX25 ~0.69 October 30, 2002 New Horizons 2 [63]
(65679) 1989 UQ Marco Polo 2018-2020
(175706) 1996 FG3 1.7 March 24, 1996 Marco Polo 2018-2020
(341843) 2008 EV5 0.4 March 4, 2008 Marco Polo 2018-2020
(341843) 2008 EV5 0.4 March 4, 2008 Asteroid Redirect Mission 2021 [56]
(612600) 2003 SM84 0.086-0.16 September 20, 2003 Don Quijote 2015 [59]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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