UPCOMING PLANETARY PROBES - MISSIONS AND SCHEDULES
This covers only NASA missions. Hard data on other missions (ESA,
Soviet, NASDA) and updates due to the usual delays and budget cuts would
be welcome. Source: NASA fact sheets, CRAF/Cassini Mission Design team.
GALILEO - Jupiter orbiter and atmosphere probe. Has returned the first
resolved images of an asteroid, Gaspra, while in transit to Jupiter.
Efforts to unfurl the stuck High-Gain Antenna (HGA) are continuing, and
prospects for success seem to be improving. If the HGA cannot be
unfurled, science return at Jupiter will be severly limited.
10/18/89 - Launch from Space Shuttle
02/09/90 - Venus Flyby
10/**/90 - Venus Data Playback
12/08/90 - 1st Earth Flyby
05/01/91 - High Gain Antenna Unfurled
07/91 - 06/92 - 1st Asteroid Belt Passage
10/29/91 - Asteroid Gaspra Flyby
12/08/92 - 2nd Earth Flyby
05/93 - 11/93 - 2nd Asteroid Belt Passage
08/28/93 - Asteroid Ida Flyby
07/02/95 - Probe Separation
07/09/95 - Orbiter Deflection Maneuver
12/95 - 10/97 - Orbital Tour of Jovian Moons
12/07/95 - Jupiter/Io Encounter
07/18/96 - Ganymede
09/28/96 - Ganymede
12/12/96 - Callisto
01/23/97 - Europa
02/28/97 - Ganymede
04/22/97 - Europa
05/31/97 - Europa
10/05/97 - Jupiter Magnetotail Exploration
MARS OBSERVER - Mars orbiter including 1.5 m/pixel resolution camera.
Launch scheduled 9/16/1992 aboard Titan III; arrival in 8/93, operations
start 11/93 for one martian year (687 days).
CRAF (Comet Rendezvous Asteroid Flyby) will meet with the Comet Kopff
near the orbit of Jupiter and travel along side it for at least three
years. Typical Kopff studies will include mass harmonics determination
orbits, a long period of close (79 km) observation orbits and tail
excursions at perihelion. Budgetary constraints resulted in the
elimination of the planned penetrator probe, and a 6 year delay in
arrival at Kopff. These dates are valid as of 12/17/91.
Key Scheduled Dates for the CRAF Mission
04/09/97 - Titan IV/Centaur Launch
07/04/98 - Mars Flyby (alt. 1805km, v=8.25 km/s)
07/18/00 - Earth Flyby 1 (alt. 4208km, v=9.11 km/s)
06/07/01 - Thisbe Flyby (alt. 8480km, v=5.2 km/s, 80 radii)
10/25/02 - Fortuna Flyby (alt. 8000km, v=12.57 km/s, 80 radii)
07/18/03 - Earth Flyby 2 (alt. 1176km, v=9.27 km/s)
01/26/06 - Rendezvous Kopff
05/25/09 - Perihelion
09/30/09 - Nominal End of Mission
CASSINI - Saturn orbiter and Titan atmosphere probe.
Key Scheduled Dates for the Cassini Mission (EJGA Trajectory)
08/22/96 - Titan IV/Centaur Launch
03/29/97 - 66 Maja Asteroid Flyby
06/08/98 - Earth Gravity Assist
02/06/00 - Jupiter Gravity Assist
12/06/02 - Saturn Arrival
03/27/03 - Titan Probe Release
03/29/03 - Orbiter Deflection Maneuver
04/18/03 - Titan Probe Entry
06/30/03 - Iapetus Flyby
05/20/04 - Dione Flyby
09/12/04 - Enceladus Flyby
08/14/05 - Iapetus Flyby
12/31/06 - End of Primary Mission
OTHER SPACE SCIENCE MISSIONS (note: this is based on a posting by Ron
Baalke in 11/89. I'm attempting to track changes in the shuttle
manifest, based most recently on Ken Hollis' posting of the manifest in
10/91, but errors are undoubtedly creeping in due to inadequate
information. Updates from people in the know are welcome).
o International Microgravity Lab [Jan 1992 STS-42 IML-1]
Shuttle lab will set up systems for life-science studies.
o Atmospheric Lab for Applications and Science (ATLAS) [Mar 1992 STS-45]
Shuttle, this manned lab will study variations in the solar
spectrum and Earth's atmosphere.
o Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer [May, Delta II rocket]
This satellite will study the evolution and population of
stars and galaxies.
o US Microgravity Laboratory [Jun 1992 STS-50 USML-01]
o TOPEX/Poseidon [rocket]
June rocket, TOPEX will study the relationship of ocean systems
o Tethered Satellite System [Jul 1992 STS-46 TSS-1]
Shuttle, attached by tether to the shuttle bay, system will
study electrical fields and gas clouds in space while
demonstrating the capabilities of deploying and retrieving a
o Spacelab Japan [Aug 1992 STS-47 SL-J]
o Laser Geodynamics Satellite [Sep 1992 STS-52 LAGEOS II]
o Space Radar Lab [Oct 1993 STS-60 SRL-01]
Gather radar images of Earth's surface.
o Mars Observer [rocket]
September by rocket, to study Mars' climate and surface.
o Gravity Probe [? not on manifest]
June, shuttle launch, prototype mission to test Einstein's
theory that space is curved.
o Polar Orbiting Satellite [? not on manifest]
June, measure solar wind and ions and gases surrounding the
o Advanced X-ray Astronomy Facility (AXAF)
Possible launch from shuttle in 1995, AXAF is a space
observatory with a high resolution telescope. It would orbit for
15 years and study the mysteries and fate of the universe.
o Earth Observing System (EOS)
Possible launch in 1997, 1 of 6 US orbiting space platforms to
provide long-term data (15 years) of Earth systems science
including planetary evolution.
o Mercury Observer
Possible 1997 launch.
o Lunar Observer
Possible 1997 launch, would be sent into a long-term lunar
orbit. The Observer, from 60 miles above the moon's poles, would
survey characteristics to provide a global context for the
results from the Apollo program.
o Space Infrared Telescope Facility
Possible launch by shuttle in 1999, this is the 4th element of
the Great Observatories program. A free-flying observatory with
a lifetime of 5 to 10 years, it would observe new comets and
other primitive bodies in the outer solar system, study cosmic
birth formation of galaxies, stars and planets and distant
o Mars Rover Sample Return (MRSR)
Robotics rover would return samples of Mars' atmosphere and
surface to Earch for analysis. Possible launch dates: 1996 for
imaging orbiter, 2001 for rover.
o Fire and Ice
Possible launch in 2001, will use a gravity assist flyby of
Earth in 2003, and use a final gravity assist from Jupiter in
2005, where the probe will split into its Fire and Ice
components: The Fire probe will journey into the Sun, taking
measurements of our star's upper atmosphere until it is
vaporized by the intense heat. The Ice probe will head out
towards Pluto, reaching the tiny world for study by 2016.
NEXT: FAQ #12/16 - Controversial questions