Deep Space Probes 1
Have you ever considered life on other planets, or maybe galaxies that we have
never heard of? Thanks to space probes these dreams may become a reality sooner than u think. In the past years there have been many space probes launched and even more discoveries made by them. These probes are helping people to better understand our solar system and everything it. They are also helping to make many new discoveries.
What exactly is a space probe? A space probe is an unmanned space vehicle that is designed to explore our solar system and everything in it by using very high-tech instruments. Some common instruments that you will find on a spacecraft include magnetometers, radiometers, cameras that are sensitive to infrared and ultraviolet light, and tools that can detect micrometers, cosmic rays, solar winds, and gamma rays. Space probes study structures in our solar system for various reasons. They use onboard computers to send data back to Earth. In order for these space probes to actually reach space, they must be launched with enough energy to escape the gravitational pull of the Earth. Space probes are not designed to return back to Earth.
In the past years, many space probes have been launched for many different reasons. They have visited all of the planets in our solar system besides Pluto. The earliest space probes to be launched in the United States were the Mariner Series. They investigated Mercury, Venus, and Mars. The Mariner II flew within 35,400 km of the surface of Venus. (1) It sent information back to Earth about Venus’s atmosphere, rotation period, and information on its magnetic field. Mariner 10 has been the only space probe to reach Mercury so far. Another space probe, Helios I came within
47 million km of the sun. (1) The Luna II and III space probes landed on the surface of the moon and took the first photos of the far side of the moon in 1959. Another space probe called the Pathfinder was launched on December 4, 1996 and made a successful landing on Mars in July of 1997. Other space probes to reach Mars include the Mars Pathfinder and the Mars Global Surveyor. A few other past space probes include the Voyager II, which is the only space probe to reach Uranus, The Venera VII, which was the first space probe to return data another planet’s surface in 1970, the Venera III which reached Venus, The Venera 13,I which transmitted the first color pictures of Venus’s surface, the Pioneer Venus space probe that mapped out much of the surface of Venus, Galileo, which returned data on Venus, and Mathiled, which returned data about a minor planet. The space probes that explored Jupiter include the Pioneer 10, Pioneer Saturn, Voyager I and II, Ulysses, and Galileo. The Pioneer 10 was the first human made object to leave our solar system.
Did you know that our moon is made up of thousands of chemical compositions, isotope ratios, and minerals that we can use? If it weren’t for the Apollo missions these discoveries might not have been made, as for tons of other discoveries made by other space probes too. Discoveries have been made about planets, asteroids, moons, and even other galaxies. The Mariner II discovered that Venus had a small magnetic field of its own. Out of all the planets Mars has been visited by space probes that most. The Mars Global Surveyor discovered that Mars also has its own magnetic field. New pictures taken from the Mars Express have shown that Mars has volcanic and glacial activity.
Planets that are millions of miles away have also been visited by space probes. The Galileo space probe discovered that there may be an ocean beneath Europa’s crust, which is one of Jupiter’s many moons. Galileo also discovered that Europa has an ionosphere. One of the most important discoveries about Europa is that life may exist because the moon is covered with an icy surface. Europa also has carbon-bearing molecules. Geological activity in the interior of Ganymero , another moon of Jupiter, has also been discovered. The Galileo spacecraft also discovered oxygen that is present at the surface of Jupiter’s moon Callisto. Some other discoveries have been made by the Hubble Space telescope, which found oxygen in the atmosphere of Europa; the Voyager series, which discovered twenty two moons all together, including three moons of Saturn in 1980, and ten moons of Uranus; the Spitzer Space Telescope which found evidence of organic molecules in a distant galaxy; the Cassini, which proved that Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus undergo erosion made by wind or rain; and the Huygens probe, which discovered that Titan was frozen.
Probes are sent out into deep space on all types of missions. Some of them are sent to study planet’s atmospheres and some are just sent out to see how far they can travel. Scientists have sent space probes out on past missions, present missions, and they are even planning future missions. The Huygens space probe mission was to analyze chemical and physical parts of Titan’s environment. It sent back information on Titan’s air temperature, pressure, wind speed, and the composition in 1997. The Genesis’ mission was to collect particles of solar wind. It returned samples back to Earth in September of
2004. The Clementine was launched on January 25, 1994 and was on a mission to map the moon by orbiting it for two months. The Viking Landers sampled Mars’ soil and atmosphere. The Mars Pathfinder also was on a mission to investigate the surface of Mars. The Galileo was sent on a mission to study Jupiter’s atmosphere and all of its satellites including its moons. One of the missions of the Voyager I was to test the components of spacecraft under exposure in the atmosphere. The Voyager I was also sent to observe the moon on one of its first missions. These are just a few examples of some past missions that space probes have been sent on. Space probes are also being sent on current missions. NASA launched the Deep Space Impact spacecraft on January 12, 2005 to begin a mission to a comet names Tempe 1. The Deep Impact space probe is carrying an Impactor that is planned to crash into the comet on July 4, 2005. The purpose of this is to learn more about the materials that helped form our solar system by taking pictures of the inside of the comet. Another recent space probe is the Huygens probe. It landed on one of Saturn’s moons (Titan) on January 16, 2005. Scientists are also planning future missions for space probes. These probes mean more discoveries to be made and even more possibilities added to the world of space. A very large mission that the United States is working on it building a very small, very fast probe that will pass Pluto. This is a very big deal because Pluto is the only planet that has not been reached by a space probe. If this space probe can get close to Pluto, then maybe the next one will be able to reach its surface. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is also being sent on a mission in August 2005 to get data on Mars’ weather, climate, atmosphere, and seasons. The European Space Agency is planning to send Bepi Columbia in August 2009 to orbit and
land on Mercury. If this space probe is successful then it will only be the second probe to land on Mercury. There is also a spacecraft that still needs to be made in order to be sent on a mission to explore Neptune. All of the new discoveries and new missions that are being made call for new developments too. If scientists are going to explore further away, then they are going to need to find a way to get them there. One problem that space probes are having is the way they are navigated. Autonomous navigation is a new way to replace controlling spacecraft from the ground. This kind of controlling is being tested on the Mars Rover in the fall of this year. Another new development is ion propulsion. Ion propulsion is said to be up to ten times faster and more efficient than other types of fuel.
Ion propulsion could mean traveling further into space than we ever have before.
As you can see, space probes have been a very big help in educating us about space. The new developments and new missions will help scientists find out things they never dreamed of knowing, and also open up a whole new world to us through space exploration!