Space Probe the Explorer of the Solar System ~ Kwentology


What is a space probe? Thanks to space probes, we know a lot more about space than ever before. Space probes are unmanned spacecraft that explore the solar system, taking detailed photos and gathering information about heavenly bodies. Space probes might fly past planets, orbit around them, or land on them. Once probe is inside the planet's atmosphere or landed, instruments on board conduct experiments. The information is then relayed back to Earth for scientists to study.

Image of Viking Landed on Mars

A Viking lander on Mars.

Mars Touchdowns

The first probe to successfully land on Mars touched down in 1967. The two Viking landers relayed to Earth the first color images of the planet's rusty surface. The landers also scooped up soil samples and tested them for evidence of life forms. The results came back negative, but scientists are hopeful that future probes might prove different.

In 2004, twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars and set about exploring, returning more than 100,000 images. They've also conducted geological tests on samples of rocks and soil. In 2009, the rovers uncovered evidence of water on Mars.

Image of Spirit and Opportunity rovers

Engineers designed the rovers to run for just a few months, but they surprised everyone by lasting for years. In 2010, Spirit became trapped in sand (photo). Opportunity was still going strong in early 2012.

Voyager 1 and 2

Image of Voyager 1 and 2

The Voyager spacecraft.
Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 and 2 are still flying through the space on a mission to explore the outer limits of our solar system. Along the way, the twin space probes took time to study the outer planets. Voyager 1 flew past Jupiter and Saturn, sending back images. Then the probe continued its journey deeper into space. It has now traveled more than 10.5 billion miles and is the farthest man-made object from Earth.

Voyager 2 took a grand tour of the outer solar system, visiting Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. It set to enter interstellar space in 2015.

Each spacecraft carries a disk (photo), that contains images and sounds from Earth, including greetings in 55 languages to any life-form it may meet.

New Horizons

Image of Space Probe New Horizons

This picture shows New Horizons.
On its journey to Pluto, the spacecraft New Horizons sailed past Jupiter in 2007, one year after it rocketed into space. The probe sent back images never before seen, such as lightning near Jupiter's poles and huge clumps of matter racing past the planet's rings. New Horizons is expected to reach Pluto by 2015.
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