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space probes

What Is a Space Probe?
Image: NASA

What Is a Space Probe?

These spacecraft without astronauts collect information about Earth, our solar system, and beyond, then send the data and photographs back to Earth.

In 1957, Sputnik 1 was the first space probe launched into space. Mariner 2 was the first to study another planet. And Voyager 1 was the first probe to leave our solar system, entering interstellar space in 2013.

NASA
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Shoot a Cannonball into Orbit!

Shoot a Cannonball into Orbit!

Fire away! Isaac Newton’s imaginary cannon will show you the difference between escape velocity and slower velocities that put something into orbit. More...

Game
NASA
NASA’s Van Allen Probes Discover a Surprise Circling Earth

NASA’s Van Allen Probes Discover a Surprise Circling Earth

The two radiation belts surrounding Earth, known as the Van Allen belts, were found in 1958 by the first satellites. A third, isolated ring was discovered in 2012 by the Van Allen Probes. More...

Video
NASA
Voyager: The Interstellar Mission

Voyager: The Interstellar Mission

After 35 years of traveling through our solar system, Voyager 1 entered interstellar space in September 2013. Get the latest details on the mission. More...

Article
NASA
Where Is New Horizons?

Where Is New Horizons?

In January 2006, the New Horizons space probe was launched on its 3000-mile journey to Pluto. It's set to arrive in the summer of 2015. See how far it's already traveled! More...

Interactive
Johns Hopkins
Images of Neptune

Images of Neptune

Neptune may be the farthest planet from the Sun, but Voyager 2 flew above the gas giant's north pole in the summer of 1989. Check out the images the space probe sent back. More...

Images
JPL/NASA
Launch a Rocket from a Spinning Planet

Launch a Rocket from a Spinning Planet

Everything in space is moving, so how do space engineers perfectly time a spacecraft? Head to the nearest playground to Investigate the challenges they face. More...

Activity
NASA
Mission Control

Mission Control

How many probes has NASA launched? Which new satellites, rovers, and spacecraft are planned? Find out in this comprehensive look at more than 100 NASA missions. More...

Interactive
NASA
Report: Humanity Leaves the Solar System—Or Maybe Not

Report: Humanity Leaves the Solar System—Or Maybe Not

Some 35 years after its launch, the spacecraft Voyager 1 appears to have exited the heliosphere, escaping the powers of the sun. Investigate the debate over whether it has really reached this goal. More...

Video
TIME Magazine
Solar System Exploration: Jeffrey Cuzzi

Solar System Exploration: Jeffrey Cuzzi

Meet a NASA scientist and "ring expert" who worked on the imaging teams for Voyager 1 and 2 and won the 2010 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize. More...

Profile
NASA
Solar System Exploration: Missions

Solar System Exploration: Missions

Find and investigate space missions by name, year, nation, status, and targets in our solar system and beyond with this rich interactive. More...

Interactive
NASA
Today’s Deep-Spacecraft Gallery

Today’s Deep-Spacecraft Gallery

View recent probes and spacecrafts — Venus Express, Akatsuki and Herschel — and those in the works. More...

Images
Space.com
Voyager: What Is the Golden Record?

Voyager: What Is the Golden Record?

Did you know Voyager 1 is carrying a "golden record" with 115 sounds and images picked by a team led by Carl Sagan? Find out what they selected. More...

Article
JPL/NASA
Voyaging to the Edge

Voyaging to the Edge

The two Voyager spacecraft traveling for three decades provide a peek of the outer edge of our solar system. Take a look at an artistic rendition of winds, waves, cosmic rays, and more. More...

Interactive
Los Angeles Times

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