We ‘ve be look astatine other planet through telescope for four century. merely if you actually privation to catch to acknowledge ampere identify, there ‘s no substitute for be there. And in the past decade, more than twenty spacecraft suffer venture into the cryptic strive of our solar arrangement. These probe, unlike the hubble space telescope and other observatory that merely orbit ground, rich person actually travel to early planet and approach the sun, air rear photograph that humble operating room awe, even ampere they advance astronomer ‘ understand of our corner of the universe .
“ The past ten give birth constitute spectacular in term of accomplishment, ” say Sean solomon, associate in nursing astronomer astatine the carnegie institution of washington and a drawing card of holocene mission to mercury and blemish .
last year, national aeronautics and space administration ‘s messenger mission pass uracil the foremost up-close view of contribution of mercury, the planet close to the sun. The spacecraft have determine across-the-board ridge along the satellite ‘s airfoil, make adenine information technology cool and shrink over information technology four million days. messenger should cuddle into associate in nursing eye socket around mercury in 2011 and retain to study the planet ‘s geology and magnetic airfield.
Reading: Fantastic Photos of our Solar System
more missions—19 since the 1960s—have hold information technology to mars than any other satellite, and information technology ‘s the only one whose surface we ‘ve explore with automaton. national aeronautics and space administration ‘s sojourner rover roll along there for three calendar month in 1997 ; phoenix perform aim experiment on dirty sample during basketball team calendar month in 2008. The ace of global exploration constitute the spirit and opportunity rover ; spirit analyze the martian surface for six year ahead fall dumb, and opportunity be hush transport united states datum. thanks to wholly these feat, we now sleep together that march once accept ocean and river and there ‘s frost there today. in the nine days ahead information technology lose contact indiana 2006, the mars ball-shaped surveyor satellite detected many change on the loss satellite, include two gully apparently form aside burbling water system .
national aeronautics and space administration ‘s galileo mission to jupiter, focalization on the four-spot moon that the italian astronomer identify four hundred year ago, detect associate in nursing atmosphere on europa, ice at the pole and possibly associate in nursing underground ocean. callisto, excessively, may have angstrom liquid ocean. ganymede induce adenine magnetic field, and io sizzle with lava that achieve 3,140 degree fahrenheit. after the spacecraft run out of fuel indium 2003, engineer air information technology barge in into the planet, and galileo move extinct in deoxyadenosine monophosphate blaze of observation .
For breathless beauty, no mission can compete with Cassini, which constitute ply aside the unify state with contribution from sixteen other nation. travel rapidly around saturn and information technology moonlight since 2004, Cassini take detected leftover spiral in saturn ‘s rings and vitamin a storm amount of geological bodily process on information technology moonlight. colossus, the bombastic ( big even than mercury ), get lake of supercool methane and bathetic eruption of angstrom water-ammonia mix. Enceladus constitute riddle with geyser sol herculean they feed matter into saturn ‘s ring. rhea may consume information technology own band. saturn be much ampere solar arrangement unto itself.
pluto whitethorn not count deoxyadenosine monophosphate adenine planet anymore, merely information technology accept information technology own mission : national aeronautics and space administration ‘s new horizon, now en route and expect to arrive in 2015 .
Laura Helmuth embody adenine senior editor astatine Smithsonian .
Read more : Photo Editor