Tracking the Whereabouts and Current Statuses of Spacecrafts in our Solar System


Mariner 4

Mariner 4– Launched in 1964, Mariner 4 accomplished the first successful flyby of Mars.  NASA lost communication with Mariner 4 in December of 1967.  The craft is now somewhere deep in space, located within exterior heliocentric orbit.

Mariner 6 & 7– Now in heliocentric orbit, the crafts have been long defunct since mapping 20% of the Martian surface in 1969.

Mariner 9– The first spacecraft to orbit another planet (Mars) was launched in 1971.  Contact with the spacecraft was cut off in 1972.  Mariner 9 still remains in Martian orbit and will enter the Martian atmosphere in 2022.

Mariner 10

Mariner 10– The last spacecraft in the Mariner program studied Mercury in Venus and was launched in 1973.  Contact with Mariner 10 continued until 1975 and it is currently orbiting the Sun.

Venera 3– Launched by the Soviet Union in 1965 by the Soviet Union, Venera 3 crash landed on Venus.

Venera 7

Venera 7- Launched by the Soviet Union in 1970, Venera 7 was the first spacecraft to successfully land on another planet(Venus) and transmit data.  It remains on the surface of Venus where contact was lost not longer after its landing.

Voyager 1

Voyager 1– Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 is the farthest man-made object from Earth.  Since completing flybys of Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 1 is now in the heliosheath of space and continues to transmit information back to NASA.

Voyager 2– Just like Voyager 1, Voyager 2 studied Saturn and Jupiter.  However, it also made flybys of Neptune and Uranus.  NASA launched Voyager 2 in 1977 and the craft remains in function.  It’s currently more than twice farther than the Sun than Pluto.  Like Voyager 1, Voyager 2 is in the heliosheath of space.

Pioneer 6

Pioneer 6– Created to measure solar wind, Pioneer 6 was launched in December of 1965.  The craft is said to remain functional and NASA last contacted it in December of 2000, thus receiving its signal.

Pioneer 7– Launched for the same purpose as 6, Pioneer 7 was last contacted in 1995.

Pioneer 8– As of 1996, the craft remains partially functional.

Pioneer 10– Pioneer 10 was launched in 1972 to study to asteroid belt, cosmic rays, Jupiter and solar wind.  The craft was last contacted in 2003 and currently in the outer-solar system, headed in the direction of the star Aldebaran.

Pioneer 11– Tasked with a similar mission as Pioneer 10, 11 was launched in 1973.  Contact with the craft was lost in 1995 and its currently headed towards the constellation Scutum.

Rosetta

Rosetta– Launched by the European Space Agency in 2004, Rosetta is tasked with studying the comets.  It will attempt to release a lander on one sometime in 2014.

Viking 1– The first craft in the Viking program (1975) included an orbiter and lander in order to touch down on the Martian surface.  The mission lasted 6 years and operation shut down after ground control sent a fault message to the lander.  The defunct Viking 1 lander remains on the Martian surface where it was photographed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2006.

Viking 2– Identical to the first in its program, Viking 2 was launched in 1975 and lasted for 1,281 on the Martian surface until it was turned off due to battery failure.

New Horizons– Launched in 2006, New Horizons is tasked with visiting Pluto (where it will arrive in 2015).  The spacecraft recently passed Uranus’s orbit.

Cassini-Huygens– Launched in 1997, Cassini-Huygens has flown by the Moon, Venus, Earth, Saturn, and Jupiter.  Cassini helped discover 3 new moons of Saturn in2004.  The craft continues to orbit Saturn.

Dawn– Tasked with exploring the asteroid Vesta in 2011 and dwarf planet Ceres in 2015, Dawn was launched in 2007.

Messenger- Launched in 2004, Messenger recently entered Mercury’s orbit.  The probe has also completed flybys of Venus and Earth.

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