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List of missions to minor planets

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Title: List of missions to minor planets  
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Subject: Asteroid, New Horizons 2, NEAR Shoemaker, Kirkwood gap, Mars trojan
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

List of missions to minor planets

As of 2016, the United States, Japan, the European Space Agency and the People's Republic of China have conducted missions to minor planets. Most missions to date that have reached their targets have been to asteroids, however the Dawn and New Horizons spacecraft have visited the dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto respectively, and the former is currently in orbit there.

Spacecraft visits to minor planets have mostly been flybys, and have ranged from dedicated missions to incidental flybys and targets of opportunity for spacecraft that have already completed their missions. The first spacecraft to visit an asteroid was Galileo, which flew past 951 Gaspra in October 1991; an incidental encounter while the probe was en route to Jupiter. The first dedicated mission was NEAR Shoemaker, which was launched in February 1996, and entered orbit around 433 Eros in February 2000, having first flown past 253 Mathilde. NEAR was also the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid, surviving what was intended to be an impact with Eros at 20:01 on 12 February 2001 at the planned end of its mission. As a result of its unexpected survival, the spacecraft's mission was extended until 1 March to allow data to be collected from the surface.

New Horizons, which flew by Pluto in July 2015, is currently on it's way to KBO which, if funded, it will encounter on New Year's day, 2019.

Spacecraft Launch date[1] Targeted minor planet Mission Outcome Remarks Carrier rocket[2]
Galileo1 18 October 19891 951 Gaspra Flyby N/A Incidental flyby en route to Jupiter; flyby occurred on 29 October 1991 with closest approach of 1,604 kilometres (997 mi) at 22:37 UTC[3]
STS-34 / IUS
243 Ida Flyby N/A Incidental flyby en route to Jupiter, discovered Dactyl; flyby occurred on 28 August 1993 with closest approach of 2,410 kilometres (1,500 mi) at 16:51:59 UTC[3]
25 January 1994 1620 Geographos Flyby 1Spacecraft failure Attitude control failure; failed to leave geocentric orbit after first phase of mission exploring the Moon. Flyby had been planned for August 1994[4] Titan II(23)G
NEAR Shoemaker
(Discovery 2)1
17 February 19961 253 Mathilde Flyby 4Successful Closest approach 1,212 kilometres (753 mi) at 12:56 UTC on 27 June 1997[5] Delta II 7925
433 Eros Orbiter 3Mostly successful Aborted burn three days before arrival at Eros resulted in failure to enter orbit, instead flew past at 3,827 kilometres (2,378 mi) at 18:41:23 on 23 December 1998. Insertion reattempted successfully on 14 February 2000. Impacted asteroid at 20:01 on 12 February 2001 at end of mission, but survived impact and continued to operate on surface until 1 March.[5]
Cassini–Huygens 15 October 1997[1] 2685 Masursky Flyby N/A Distant incidental flyby en route to Saturn; closest approach 1.5 million kilometres (0.9 million miles) at 09:58 UTC on 23 January 2000[6] Titan IV(401)B Centaur-T[7]
Deep Space 1 1 24 October 19981 4015 Wilson–Harrington[8] Flyby 1Spacecraft failure Spacecraft was unable to reach the asteroid due to ion engine operation being suspended while a problem with the probe's star tracker was investigated[9] Delta II 7326
9969 Braille Flyby 2Partial failure Closest approach 28.3 kilometres (17.6 mi) at 04:46 UTC[9] on 29 July 1999. Intended to pass within 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) but this was not achieved due to a computer failure, poor-quality images returned as a result.[10] Flyby added to mission following loss of ability to reach Wilson–Harrington
(Discovery 4)
7 February 1999 5535 Annefrank[11] Flyby 4Successful Closest approach of 3,079 kilometres (1,913 mi) at 04:50:20 UTC on 2 November 2002 Delta II 7426
9 May 2003 25143 Itokawa Orbiter/lander
Sample return
2Partial failure Reached Itokawa on 12 September 2005, landed briefly on 19 and 25 November but sampler failed to operate, missed return window due to communications outage, finally returned to Earth on 13 June 2010 M-V
Minerva 25143 Itokawa Lander 1Spacecraft failure Deployed from Hayabusa on 12 November 2005; Accidentally released while Hayabusa was moving away from Itokawa; reached escape velocity and drifted off into heliocentric orbit
Rosetta1 2 March 2004 2867 Šteins Flyby 4Successful Closest approach 800 kilometres (500 mi) on 5 September 2008 Ariane 5G+
21 Lutetia Flyby 4Successful Closest approach 3,162 kilometres (1,965 mi) on 10 July 2010
Deep Impact
(Discovery 7)
12 January 2005 163249 2002 GT Flyby 1Spacecraft failure
(Extended mission)
Extended mission (EPOXI), flyby was expected in 2020, but communication with the spacecraft was lost in August 2013 Delta II 7925
New Horizons
(New Frontiers 1)1
19 January 2006 132524 APL Flyby N/A Incidental flyby en route to Pluto, closest approach 101,867 kilometres (63,297 mi) at 04:05 UTC on 13 June 2006 Atlas V 551
134340 Pluto and it's five moons. Flyby 4Successful Flyby occurred on 14 July 2015
2014 MU69 Flyby 6En route Flyby expected in January 2019
(Discovery 9)1
27 September 2007 4 Vesta Orbiter 4Successful Orbited Vesta from 16 July 2011 to 5 September 2012, before departing for Ceres Delta II 7925H
1 Ceres Orbiter 4Successful Arrived in 2015
Chang'e-2 1 October 2010 4179 Toutatis Flyby 4Successful Flyby on 13 December 2012, closest approach 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) Chang Zheng 3C
Hayabusa 2 3 December 2014 162173 Ryugu Orbiter/lander
Sample return
6En route H-IIA 202
Minerva II-1A Lander 6En route To be deployed from Hayabusa 2
Minerva II-1B Lander 6En route To be deployed from Hayabusa 2
Minerva II-2 Lander 6En route To be deployed from Hayabusa 2
MASCOT Lander 6En route To be deployed from Hayabusa 2
SCI Impactor 6En route To be deployed from Hayabusa 2
DCAM-3 Orbiter 6En route To be deployed from Hayabusa 2, will be used to observe SCI impact
PROCYON 185851 2000 DP107 Flyby 6En route Flyby planned for 2016

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Wilson–Harrington is catalogued as both a comet and an asteroid
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^
  11. ^
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