Exploring the planets and other bodies in the Solar System are interplanetary spacecraft. They carry advanced cameras and other instruments to detect radiation, magnetism, and tiny particles of matter.
The first spacecraft were sent to explore the Moon, then the closest planets, Venus and Mars. By now, all the planets except Pluto have been visited. Most spacecraft fly by their targets, but some release a PROBE to explore the surface. Interplanetary spacecraft have also explored comets and asteroids.
Table 13. KEY INTERPLANETARY MISSIONS
|1959||Luna 2||First to photograph far side of Moon|
|1965||Mariner 4||First close-up images of another planet (Mars)|
|1973||Pioneer 10||First close-up of Jupiter|
|1976||Viking 1, 2||First to land on Mars|
|1986||Voyager 2||First to explore Uranus|
|1986||Giotto||First close encounter with a comet (Halley’s)|
|2000||NEAR||First to land on an asteroid (Eros)|
A probe is a part of a larger spacecraft that is released to drop into the atmosphere or to the surface of a planet or a moon.