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Space-based Observatories

This page aims to provide near-complete lists of solar-system space missions (including solar science), astronomy & physics space missions, and an incomplete but grwoing list of earth-science/meteorology missions. A separate list of ground-based telescopes is kept here. Comprehensive details of space projects are maintained by the various space agencies (see our list of organizations).

o  ACE Advanced Composition Explorer; samples low-energy particles of solar origin and high-energy galactic particles

o BEAGLE 2 A lander for the Mars Express mission (2003)

o BEPICOLUMBO ESA's mission to Mercury (see also Messenger).

o CASSINI Mission to Saturn; currently in cruise phase, scheduled to arrive 2004 July 1, when it will deploy the Huygens Titan lander.

o CLEMENTINE `Faster, better, cheaper' lunar exploration (1994)

o CLUSTER II Studying how the solar wind affects Earth.

o CONTOUR The ill-fated Comet Nucleus Tour

o DAWN Dawn's goal is to characterize the conditions and processes of the solar system's earliest epoch

o DEEP IMPACT The first mission aiming to create a crater on a cometary body

o GALILEO Journey to Jupiter (and its satellite system).

o GENESIS NASA's Discovery mission for in-situ sampling of the solar wind

o GIOTTO ESA mission to Comet Halley

o HETE-2 High Energy Transient Explorer

o HUYGENS Titan lander, part of the Cassini mission.

o KEPLER "A search for habitable planets"

o LUNAR PROSPECTOR Mapping the moon (1998 January--1999 July)

o MAGELLAN Mission to Venus (1990-1994)

o MARS EXPRESS ESA's mission to Mars (2003)

o 2001 MARS ODYSSEY NASA mission to map the amount and distribution of chemical elements and minerals that make up the Martian surface.

o MARS SURVEYOR '98 Comprising Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander

o MARS GLOBAL SURVEYOR High-resolution surface mapping

o MARS PATHFINDER Pictures from the Sagan Memorial Station (1997-1998).

o MESSENGER NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging mission.

o NetLander 2007 The NetLander 2007 Mars mission will focus on investigations of the interior of the planet and the large-scale circulation of the atmosphere.

o NOZOMI Nozomi (Planet-B) is the first Japanese Mars orbiter

o NEAR The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous

o PIONEER The Pioneer spacecraft were among the first to explore the solar system

o POLAR The Polar spacecraft was launched to obtain data from the polar region of geospace.

o RHESSI The Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager

o ROSETTA Rendezvous with a comet.

o RXTE The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer

o SOHO The SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory

o SOLAR-B Studying the solar origins of space weather and global change

o SORCE The Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment

o STARDUST Return of a sample of cometary material to Earth.

o STEREO Two identically equipped spacecraft to provide revolutionary 3-D imaging of coronal mass ejections

o TIMED To understand the influence of the Sun on Earth's atmosphere

o TRACE Transition Region and Coronal Explorer: exploring the three-dimensional magnetic structures that emerge through the visible surface of the Sun.

o ULYSSES Charting the solar wind.

o VENUS EXPRESS ESA's first mission to Earth's nearest planetary neighbour

o VOYAGER The 'greatest space adventurer', and groundbreaking planetary exploration mission

o YOHKOH An observatory for studying X-rays and gamma-rays from the Sun. Climate orbiter failed to deploy [full story]


o  ASCA ASCA (Astro-D) was Japan's Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics

o ASTRO-E2 Japanese X-ray astronomy satellite (Goddard web site; the original Astro-E was lost on launch).

o BeppoSAX The BeppoSAX mission (Satellite per Astronomia X, "Beppo" in honor of Giuseppe Occhialini) is distinguished by its wide spectral coverage.

o BOOMERAnG Balloon Observations Of Millimetric Extragalactic Radiation And Geophysics (a balloon-borne CMB experiment)

o CGRO The Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (1991-2000)

o CHANDRA The Advanced X-ray Astronomy Facility, AXAF

o CHIPS The Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer

o COROT 'COnvection ROtation and planetary Transits' – designed to detect tiny changes in brightness from nearby stars.

o DARWIN Infrared space interferometry, looking for signs of life on Earth-like planets.

o EDDINGTON ESA's photometric planet-search mission [Cancelled]

o EUVE The Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer mission

o FIRST Renamed Herschel, this mission is designed to explore the mm and far-IR spectral regions.

o FUSE The Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) is NASA mission to observe in the far UV. Launched 1999 June, operated from John-Hopkins University Baltimore.

o GAIA The next generation astrometry mission, a successor to Hipparcos

o GALEX Galaxy Evolution Explorer – mapping the history of star formation in the universe.

o HALCA Halca (Muses-B) is a Japanese satellte, and the first dedicated to Very Long Baseline Interferometry.

o HERSCHEL Herschel (formerly known as FIRST) is designed to explore the mm and far-IR spectral regions.

o HIPPARCOS An extremely successful astrometry mission

o HST: the Hubble Space Telescope The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a NASA 2.4m UV/optical/near-IR telescope operated by the STScI in Baltimore. Information is also available from the European Coordinating Facility in Garching or UK Support Facility in Cambridge.

o INTEGRAL Gamma-Ray Observatory

o ISO: the Infrared Space Observatory The Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) was an ESA mission covering the mid to far IR. The WWW server is maintained in Villafranca Madrid.

o IUE: the International Ultraviolet Explorer The IUE satellite was a joint project between NASA, ESA and PPARC and collected low and high dispersion spectroscopy in the range 1150-3200A, between Jan 1978 and Sep 1996, when it was terminated. There is an extensive archive maintained at STScI, while the UK Support includes details about the `IUE Newly Extracted Spectra' (INES) archive.

o JWST: the James Webb Space Telescope NASA's next-generation Space Telescope (and formerly known as the NGST), which is being developed to replace the HST and to observe the distant universe.

o KEPLER "A search for habitable planets"

o LISA The Laser Interferometry Space Antenna, searching for gravitational waves.

o MAP The Microwave Anisotropy Probe (see also PLANCK), renamed the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe.

o MAXIMA The Millimeter Anisotropy eXperiment IMaging Array (balloon-borne)

o ODIN A Swedish small satellite project for astronomical and atmospheric research

o PLANCK Imaging the Cosmic Microwave Background (see also MAP and BOOMERANG).

o ROSAT An X-ray/EUV satellite (1990-1999)

o Spitzer Space Telescope The Spitzer Space Telescope (formerly know as SIRTF, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility), launched in 2003, observes the IR between 3 and 180 micron, with a 0.85m primary mirror, the largest IR telescope ever launched into space.

o SOFIA A joint NASA-DLR observatory which will be mounted in a modified Boeing 747-SP to observe at infrared wavelengths above the bulk of the Earth's atmosphere (SOFIA stands for Stratospheric Observatory for IR astronomy).

o Space VLBI Space Very Long Baseline Interferometry

o SPIDR Spectroscopy and Photometry of the Intergalactic medium's Diffuse Radiation

o STEP Satellite Test of the Equivalence Principle

o SWAS The Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite

o Swift 'Catching gamma-ray bursts on the fly'

o WIRE The Wide-field InfraRed Explorer

o WMAP The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe.

o XMM-Newton A powerful observatory for X-ray astronomy, the X-ray Multi-Mirror (XMM-Newton) telescope, was launched in 1999 December ( UK XMM Guest Observer Support Facility.)

o  CHAMP CHAllenging Minisatellite Payload: a German small satellite mission for geoscientific and atmospheric research and applications.

o CORIOLIS A 3-year meteorological science mission to demonstrate the viability of using polarimetry to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction from space

o CRYOSAT A three-year radar altimetry mission

o GFO Geosat Follow-On mission

o GOCE The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Mission

o IMAGE Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration

o Jason-1 The first follow-on to the TOPEX/Poseidon mission

o POLAR The Polar spacecraft was launched to obtain data from the polar region of geospace.

o TOPEX/Poseidon A joint venture between CNES and NASA to map ocean surface topography.


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