Missions currently in progress:
-This mission's objective is to perform a detailed
study of Saturn, it's Rings, Magnetosphere, it's Icy Satellites, and it's
Launched October 15, 1997
Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO)
-This is the second of NASA's Great Observatories,
studying solar flares, cosmic gamma-ray bursts, pulsars, nova and
supernova explosions, accreting black holes of stellar dimensions, quasar
emission and interactions of cosmic rays with the interstellar medium.
Launched April 5, 1991
-Galileo's objective is to study Jupiter, focusing
on it's atmosphere, satellites and surrounding magnetosphere.
Launched October 18, 1989 - Jupiter arrival December 7,
-The primary objective of this mission is to study
the tail of the Earth's magnetosphere. The information gathered during
the Geotail mission will allow scientists to model and more accurately
predict Sun-Earth interactions.
Launched July 24,
Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
-HST is a long lived space-based observatory for
the benefit of the international astronomical community. HST has
generated a continuing stream of major scientific discoveries throughout
it's history in space.
Launched April 24, 1990 - next
Servicing Mission launch December 1999
-The INTERBALL Project is designed to study
various plasma processes in the circumterrestrial space as the principal
way to study solar-terrestrial physical processes. The Project consists of
two pairs (satellite-subsatellite) at high altitude orbits: to 200,000 km
for the Tail Probe pair and to 20,000 km for the Auroral Probe pair. This
Russian-led project involves the efforts of a large, international
Tail Probe launch August 1995
Auroral Probe launch August
-Prospector's objective is to answer long-standing
questions about the Moon, it's resources, it's structure and it's origins.
This information will direct future exploration of the Moon and future
utilization of Moon resources.
Launched January 6,
Mars Global Surveyor
-The Mars Global Surveyor has a course of a full
Martian year, and during this year it's objective is to
return an unprecedented amount of data regarding Mars' atmosphere, magnetic
properties and surface features.
Launched November 7,
Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR)
-The first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid, the
NEAR mission attempts to answer fundamental questions about the nature and
origin of near-Earth objects. These objects contain clues to the nature
of early solar system processes.
Launched February 17,
Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT)
-NEAT is a ground-based system of automated
electronic cameras taking inventory of earth-approaching objects down to 1
kilometer in diameter. It is a cooperative program between NASA and the
United States Air Force.
-Polar is part of the ISTP
Project and is the second of two NASA spacecraft in the Global Geospace
Science (GGS) initiative. GGS is designed to improve the understanding of
the flow of energy, mass and momentum in the solar-terrestrial environment
with emphasis on "geospace".
Launched February 24,
Solar, Anomalous, and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer(SAMPEX)
-SAMPEX is investigating the composition of local
interstellar matter and solar material and the transport of magnetospheric
charged particles into the Earth's atmosphere. SAMPEX was the first Small Explorer mission.
Launched July 3,
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)
-SOHO is a joint venture of the European Space
Agency and NASA, and is a solar observatory stydying the structure,
chemical composion, and dynamics of the solar interior; the structure and
dynamics of the outer solar atmosphere; and the solar wind and it's
relation to the solar atmosphere.
Launched December 2,
-The Ulysses Mission is the first spacecraft to
explore interplanetary space at high solar latitudes. The spacecraft
orbits the Sun nearly perpendicular to the plane in which the planets
Launched Oct. 6, 1990
Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM)
-The VIM is an extension of the Voyager primary
mission that was completed in 1989. This extended mission continues to
characterize the outer solar system environment and searches for the
heliopause boundary, the outer limits of the Sun's magnetic field and
outward flow of the solar wind.
Voyager 1 launched September 5,
Voyager 2 launched August 20, 1977
-WIND is part of the International Solar-Terrestrial Physics (ISTP)
Project, and is the first of two NASA spacecraft in the Global Geospace
Science (GGS) initiative. WIND has been in a sunward, multiple
swingby orbit with a maximum apogee of 250Re during the first two years of
operation. this will be followed by a halo orbit at the Earth-Sun L1
Launched November 1, 1994
Missions in Development
NOTE: These Space Science
missions are still under
development, and the
launch/completion dates are subject to change.
-Astro-E is Japan's fifth X-ray Astronomy
missions. It is being developed at
the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) in collaboration with US (NASA/GSFC, MIT)
and Japanese institutions. US contributions to this mission include Goddard Space Flight Center
building the X-ray telescopes and micro-calorimeters, and MIT building the four X-ray imaging
Expected Launch: February 2000
Advanced X-Ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF)
-AXAF is designed to observe X-rays from high
energy regions of the universe, such as hot gas in the remnants of
exploded stars. The observatory has three major parts:(1) the X-ray
telescope, whose mirrors will focus X-rays from celestial objects; (2)the
science instruments which record the X-rays so that X-ray images can be
produced and analyzed; and (3) the spacecraft, which provides the
environment necessary for the telescope and the instruments to work. This
will be the most sophisticated X-ray observatory ever built.
Expected Launch: December 1998
Cooperative Astrophysics and Technology Satellite
-CATSAT is a small scientific satellite mission
that is being developed jointly by the University of New Hampshire, Weber
State University, and the University of Leicester. It's scientific
mission will be to study the origin and nature of Gamma Ray Bursters, seen
as one of the most mysterious astrophysical phenomenom. CATSAT will be
designed, built and operated by student engineering teams, with
professional staff and teaching faculty as mentors.
-The origional Cluster mission (part of the ISTP program)
was lost on June 4, 1996 tot he explosion of the Ariane-5 rocket.
Cluster-II, the second attempt, has been approved by the European Space
Agency and NASA, and as planned, the four spacecraft will carry out
three-dimensional measurements in the Earth's magnetosphere, covering both
large and small scale phenomena in the sunward and tail
Expected Launch: June 2000
Deep Space 1
-During it's two year primary mission,Deep Space
1 (DS1) will test and perfect 12 new technologies for future missions in
the 21st Century. In addition to rigourous testing of the future
technologies, the DS1 spacecraft will fly by and collect information about
an asteroid, then Mars, and finally a comet. The DS1 mission will be the
first to use solar electric ion propultion.
Expected Launch: July
Deep Space 2
-The primary purpose of this mission is to
demonstrate key technologies for future planetary exploration while
collecting meaningful science data. Scientific objectives include
determining if ice is present below the Martian surface, measuring the
local atmospheric pressure of Mars and characterizing the thermal
properties of the Martian subsurface soil.
Expected Launch: January
-FUSE, Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, is a NASA supported astronomy mission to explore the Universe using the technique of high-resolution spectroscopy in the far-ultraviolet spectral region. The Johns Hopkins University has the lead role in developing and operating the mission, in collaboration with other universities, contractors and international partners.
Expected Launch: November 1998
B-The Relativity Mission
-The goal of this experiment is to precisely
measure an effect that is
predicted by all viable relativistic theories of gravity, but has yet to be observed. Just as
Newton's law of gravity is paralleled by Coulomb's law of electricity, it is also expected that the
force between currents of electrical charge, described by Ampere's law, should be paralleled by a
force between "currents" of flowing matter. It is this force that has never been directly
Expected Launch: March 2000
International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory
-INTEGRAL's mission is dedicated to the fine
spectroscopy and fine imaging of celestial gamma-ray sources in the energy
range of 15 keV to 10 MeV with concurrent source monitoring in the X-ray
and optical energy ranges. The nominal lifetime of the observatory will be
2 years with possible extension to up to 5 years. Most of the observing
time will be made available to the worldwide scientific
Expected Launch: March 2001
Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE)
see also: IMAGE Home Page at Southwest Research Institute
-IMAGE is a MIDEX class mission, selected by NASA in 1996, to study the global response of the Earth's magnetosphere to
changes in the solar wind. IMAGE will use neutral atom, ultraviolet, and radio imaging techniques to:
Expected Launch: January 2000
- Identify the dominant mechanisms for injecting plasma into the magnetosphere on substorm and magnetic storm time scales;
- Determine the directly driven response of the magnetosphere to solar wind changes; and,
- Discover how and where magnetospheric plasmas are energized, transported, and subsequently lost during substorms and magnetic storms.
Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP)
-Map is a MIDEX class mission, selected by NASA to probe
conditions in the early universe. MAP will help to answer three of the
most fundamental questions in cosmology:
To answer these questions, MAP will measure temperature
fluctuations (anisotropy) of the cosmic microwave background radiation
over the entire sky.
- What are the values of the cosmological parameters of the Big Bang
- How did structures of galaxies form in the universe?
- When did the first structures of galaxies form?
Expected Launch: November 2000
-RadioAstron is led by the Astro Space Center of
the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow, Russia. This project will put a
10-meter radio telescope into a high elliptical orbit in order to make
VLBI observations in conjunction with radio telescopes on the ground. It
will be supported by the U.S. SVLBI project.
-Stardust will be the first U.S. mission dedicated
solely to a comet and the first robotic return of extraterrestrial
material from outside the orbit of the Moon. It's primary goal is to
collect comet dust and volatile samples during a planned close encounter
with comet Wild 2 in January of 2004. Additonally, the Stardust
spacecraft will also bring back samples of interstellar dust, including
the recently discovered dust treaming into the solar system from the
direction of Sagittarius.
Expected Launch: February
Sub-millimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS)
-The scientific objectives of SWAS are to study
the chemical composition, energy balance and structure of interstellar clouds
and the processes that lead to the formation of stars and planets. SWAS
is part of the Small Explorer program.
Expected Launch: February 1999
Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and
-TIMED is planned to explore Earth's Mesosphere
Lower Thermosphere (60-180 kilometers), the least explored and understood
region of our atmosphere. Advances in remote sensing technology employed
by TIMED instrumentation will enable us to explore this region on a global
basis from space.
Expected Launch: May 2000
Wide-Field Infrared Explorer (WIRE)
-The objective of the WIRE mission is to answer three
This will be the first mission to probe these redshifts at far-infrared
- What fraction of the luminosity of the Universe at a redshift
of 0.5 and beyond is due to starburst galaxies?
- How fast and in what ways are starburst galaxies evolving?
- Are luminous protogalaxies common at redshifts less than
Expected Launch: September 1998