National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content
YSS Logo
YSS Logo
YSS Logo
NASA Banner
Return to Solar System Exploration
TOPICS
  Overview News Classrooms Organizations & Clubs Featured Activity
   Educational Resources   Background   Featured Missions   Solar System Explorers 

Robotic Spacecraft: Far-Ranging Robots
Featured Missions


All of the NASA missions traveling through the solar system are far-ranging robots. In addition to the missions highlighted below, check out others at Missions.

Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover

The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover is studying Mars' habitability, carrying the biggest, most advanced suite of instruments for scientific studies ever sent to the Martian surface. It has relied on new technological innovations, especially for landing. The spacecraft descended on a parachute and then, during the final seconds prior to landing, lowered the upright rover on a tether to the surface, much like a sky crane. On the surface, the rover is be able to roll over obstacles up to 75 cm high and travel up to 90 m per hour.

Dawn

As a mission belonging to NASA's Discovery Program, Dawn is responsible for driving new technology innovation. The Dawn spacecraft uses ion propulsion to get the additional velocity needed to reach Vesta, to spiral to lower altitudes on Vesta, to leave Vesta and cruise to Ceres and to spiral to a low altitude orbit at Ceres. Ion propulsion makes efficient use of the onboard fuel by accelerating it to a velocity ten times that of chemical rockets.

MESSENGER

The systems for this spacecraft were designed to address the challenges of becoming the first mission to orbit Mercury, in the high radiation environment so close to the sun. MESSENGER is tough, with a sunshade and other protection to withstand searing sunlight and roasting heat bouncing back from the planet below, and lightweight, since most of its mass was fuel used to slow the spacecraft down enough to be captured by Mercury's gravity.

Juno

Juno will avoid Jupiter's highest radiation regions by approaching over the north, dropping to an altitude below the planet's radiation belts - which are analogous to Earth's Van Allen belts, but far more deadly - and then exiting over the south. To protect sensitive spacecraft electronics, Juno will carry the first radiation shielded electronics vault, a critical feature for enabling sustained exploration in such a heavy radiation environment.

All Topics
Back to YSS Home
Featured YSS Resource: Space 365 app � see what NASA events happened each day of the year. Featured YSS Resource: 50 years of Solar System Exploration Featured YSS Resource: Eyes on the Solar System - Explore our galactic neighborhood in 3D!
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 12 Sep 2014