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Missions to explore the Solar System:


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Cluster:

Cluster is a European Space Agency mission to study the Earth's plasma environment and the effects of the solar wind on the Earth's magnetosphere. The four spacecraft orbit the Earth in a pyramid formation, so they can study plasma in the space between them in three dimensions.

Europlanet member countries with involvement in the Cluster mission:

 

Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
ASPOC Active Spacecraft Potential Control  Austria   Netherlands   UK
CIS Cluster Ion Spectrometry  Germany 
EDI  Electron Drift Instrument   Austria   Germany
EFW  Electric Field and Wave Experiment  Sweden   UK
FGM  Fluxgate Magnometer  Austria   France
PEACE  Plasma Electron And Current Experiment  Austria   France   UK 
RAPID  Research with Adaptive Particle Imaging Detectors  Germany
STAFF  Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Field Fluctuations  France 
WBD  Wideband Plasma Wave Investigation   
WHISPER  Wave of HIgh frequency and Sounder for Probing of Electron DEensity by Relaxation  France 

 

ExoMars:

ExoMars is the first mission in the European Space Agency's Aurora programme, Europe's long-term plan for exploring Mars. ExoMars, which includes an orbiter and a lander/rover, will search for traces of past and present life on Mars and gather information the Martian environment in preparation for future missions.

Europlanet member countries involved in ExoMars:

Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
AEP Advance Environmental Package   UK
LMC Life Marker Chip   UK
MEDUSA Martian Environmental DUSt Analyser   Italy
MGD-MOLE Mole Ground Demonstrator  Italy
Microseisometer    UK
MOD-MOI Mar Organic Detection/ Mars Oxidant Instrument  UK
MOMA Molecular Organic Molecule Analyser  France
NEIGE    France
PanCam Panoramic Camera System   French flag   UK
Raman/LIBS Raman/Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometer   UK
UV-VIS Ultraviolet/Visible spectrometer   UK
WISDOM    France
XRD X-ray Diffractometer/ Spectrometer    UK

 

Genesis:

Genesis is the first mission to bring a piece of the Sun to Earth.

The NASA mission spent two years bathing in the Solar Wind, a stream of particles emitted by the Sun. Particles from the Solar Wind became embedded in the spacecraft's collector arrays, which consist of wafers made from materials such as silicon and diamond.

In September 2004, Genesis returned to Earth - a little ahead of schedule. The parachutes that should have slowed the capsule during its descent did not open and the capsule hit the ground travelling at nearly 320 kilometres per hour. Despite this, the project team has managed to recover some samples and it believes that most of the science objectives of the mission will still be acheived.

Europlanet member countries involved in Genesis:

France   Switzerland   UK

Juno:

NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter will build on discoveries made by the Galileo mission, which ended in 2003. Juno will study the composition of Jupiter's atmosphere, study weather systems, determine whether Jupiter has an ice-rock core, investigate the origin of the Jovian magnetic field, and explore the planet's magnetosphere in polar regions.


Europlanet member countries with involvement in Juno:

Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
 MWR Microwave Radiometer  
 JIRAM Jupiter InfraRed Auroral Mapper  Italy
 MFI Magnetic Field Investigation  
 PMS Polar Magnetosphere Suite  
 GSE  Gravity Science Experiment  
 JCM  JunoCam  
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter:

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will gather data to prepare for future manned missions to the Moon. The development of a Lunar base is the first step in NASA's plans for an eventual manned mission to Mars. LRO will measure radiation levels in Lunar orbit, make detailed visual and temperature maps of the surface, look for water-ice near the surface, and study the light-levels at the poles.

Europlanet member countries involved in Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter:

 

Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
 CRaTER Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation  
 Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment  UK
 LAMP Lyman Alpha Mapping Project  
 LEND Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector  
 LOLA  Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter  
 LROC  Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera  

 

Mars Express:

Mars Express is the European Space Agency's first mission to the Red Planet. The spacecraft is investigating the history of water on Mars and mapping the planet in unprecedented detail.


Mars Express orbiter
The orbiter is making a detailed investigation of the Martian surface and atmosphere. Instruments are monitoring gas concentrations in the atmosphere and the processes that drive Martian dust storms. Mars Express will map the entire Martian surface, producing full colour, 3-dimensional images. Mars Express is also finding out what happened to the water that once flowed across the Martian surface. It is measuring how much water has been lost to interplanetary space and using Radar to look beneath the surface for underground lakes and ice.


Beagle 2
Beagle 2 was designed to look for the chemical signatures of life in Martian soil and investigate the atmospheric conditions and geology of the landing site. Beagle 2 was unfortunately lost on landing. However, its ground-breaking miniaturisation technology will be used on future missions.

Europlanet member countries involved in Mars Express:

Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
 ASPERA-3 Analyser of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms  Finland   Germany   Sweden   UK
 HRSC High Resolution Stereo Cameras  France   Germany   UK
 MaRS Mars Radio Science  Belgium
 MARSIS Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding  France   Germany   Italy
 OMEGA Observatoire pour la Minéralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces et l'Activité  France
 PFS  Planetary Fourier Spectrometer  France   Italy   Poland
 SPICAM Spectroscopy for Investigation of Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Mars  France
 Beagle 2 Lander (Geochemical laboratory)  UK
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter:

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is laying the groundwork for future exploration of the Red Planet.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will carry on the work started by Mars Odyssey, Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Express. It will study the surface, subsurface, and atmosphere of Mars and will also identify potential landing sites for future missions.

The orbiter carries a high-resolution camera that will focus in on areas of interest and any potential landing sites. A second camera will take wide-angle images that will help put the detail into context. Instruments will map the mineralogy of the surface and monitor the Martian atmosphere. A Radar will also scan beneath the surface to see if water or ice is hidden beneath the Martian crust.

Europlanet member countries involved in Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter:

 

Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
 HiRISE High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment  
 CTX Context Camera   
 MARCI Mars Color Imager   
 CRISM Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars   
 MCS Mars Climate Sounder   UK
 SHARAD Shallow Radar   Italy

 

Mars Science Laboratory:

Mars Science Laboratory is a NASA rover that will analyse the composition of Martian rock samples. It is due to be launched in 2009 and will land on Mars in October 2010.

Europlanet member countries involved in Mars Science Laboratory:

Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
 MastCam Mast Camera  
 MAHLI Mars Hand Lens Imager  
 MARDI Mars Descent Imager  
 APXS Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer  Germany
 ChemCam  Laser-Induced Remote Sensing for Chemistry and Micro-Imaging  France
 CheMin  Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction  
 SAM  Sample Analysis at Mars Instrument Suite  France
 RAD  Radiation Assessment Detector  
 DAN  Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons  
 REMS  Rover Environmental Monitoring Station  Spain
Rosetta:

Rosetta is the first space mission to attempt to land on a comet. The mission is operated by the European Space Agency.

Rosetta will spend two years travelling with Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko along its orbital path around the Sun. The Rosetta orbiter will map the surface of the nucleus and analyse gases and dust in the comet's atmosphere. The Rosetta lander will drop down onto the surface to take ground-based measurements and drill samples from below the surface for analysis.

Sightseeing en-route

Rosetta will take 10 years to reach its target, Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. During its journey it has undergone gravity-assist manoeuvres and asteroid flybys.

To build up speed, Rosetta swung by the Earth three times during its journey. In 2007, it also made a slingshot around Mars. As Rosetta approached the Red Planet, it took pictures and measurements of the Martian surface to find out which minerals are present in the soil.

Rosetta has also studied two asteroids during its journey: Steins in 2008 and Lutetia in 2010. Rosetta's instruments measured the size, shape and rotational period of the asteroids and looked for traces of dust and gas around them.

Europlanet member countries involved in Rosetta:


Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
Rosetta Orbiter    
 CONSERT Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radiowave Transmission France (PI)

 GermanyNetherlands
 COSIMA Cometary Secondary Ion Mass Analyzer  Germany (PI)

 Austria   Finland   France  
 GIADA Grain Impact Analyser and Dust Accumulator  Italy(PI)

 France Spain UK
 MIDAS Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System  Austria (PI)

 France  Germany   Netherlands   UK   UK
 MIRO Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Orbiter  (PI: JPL)
 Germany
 OSIRIS Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System  Germany (PI)

 French flag   Italy   UK
 ROSINA Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis  Switzerland (PI)

 BelgiumFrance  Germany  
 RPC Rosetta Plasma Consortium  France  Germany  Sweden  UK (PIs)

 Austria   Finland   Hungary  
 RSI Radio Science Investigation   Germany (PI)

 France 
 VIRTIS Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer  Italy (PI)

 France Germany Poland netherlands   UK
Philae Lander    
 APXS Alpha X-ray Spectrometer  
 CIVA Six identical microcameras  France
 CONSERT  COmet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radio-wave Transmission  France
 COSAC COmetary Sampling and Composition experiment  Germany
 MUPUS Multi-Purpose Sensors for Surface and Sub-surface Science  Austrian flag   Poland
 Ptolemy Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer  UK
 ROLIS Rosetta Lander Imaging System  
 ROMAP Rosetta Lander Magnetometer and Plasma Monitor  Austria
 SD2 Sampling, drilling and distribution subsystem  
 SESAME Surface Electrical, Seismic and Acoustic Monitoring Experiments  Finland
SMART-1:

SMART-1 was the European Space Agency's first mission to the Moon. It tested out new technologies and mapped the geochemistry of the lunar surface.

Launched in September 2003, SMART-1 took a spiral route to the Moon, arriving in November 2004. SMART-1's instruments gathed data about the Moon's surface, orbit and plasma environment. Data from the mission will answer questions about the Moon's origin and evolution. On 3rd September 2006, the SMART-1 mission ended with the probe being deliberately crashed into the Moon's "Sea of Excellence". Ground based telescopes were used to observe the dust cloud generated. Data from these observations gave information about the geochemistry of the lunar surface.

The European Space Agency used SMART-1 to test advanced technologies needed for future missions. The spacecraft was propelled towards the Moon by an innovative solar electric propulsion system. SMART-1's instruments used the latest miniaturisation technologies.


Europlanet member countries involved in the SMART-1 mission:


Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
  AMIE Advance Moon micro-Imager Experiment  Switzerland   Finland   France   Netherlands
 D-CIXS Demonstration of a Compact Imaging Spectrometer  UK
 SIR  SMART-1 Infrared Spectrometer  Germany
 SPEDE Spacecraft Potential, Electron and Dust Experiment  Finland   Netherlands   Sweden
 RSIS  Radio Science Investigation with SMART-1  Italy
 XSM  X-ray Solar Monitor  Finland 

 

SOHO:

The SOlar Heliospheric Observatory is a joint mission by the European Space Agency and NASA to study the Sun, from its inner core to the outer layers and the corona.
Europlanet member countries involved in the SMART-1 mission:

 

Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
 CDS Coronal Diagnostic Spectrometer   UK 
 CELIAS Charge, Element, and Isotope Analysis System   Germany   Switzerland 
 COSTEP  Comprehensive Suprathermal and Energetic Particle Analyzer (LION & EPHIN) Hungary 
 EIT Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope  Belgium   France
 ERNE  Energetic and Relativistic Nuclei and Electron experiment  Finland 
 GOLF Global Oscillations at Low Frequencies   France
 LASCO Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph  France   Germany
 MDI/SOI Michelson Doppler Imager/Solar Oscillations Investigation   
 SUMER Solar Ultraviolet Measurements of Emitted Radiation   France   Germany
SWAN  Solar Wind Anisotropies   Finland   France
 UVCS  Ultraviolet Coronagraph Spectrometer   Italy   Germany   Netherlands   Switzerland
VIRGO  Variability of Solar Irradiance and Gravity Oscillations   France

 

Stardust:

NASA's Stardust mission has brought samples from a comet's tail back to Earth for analysis.

Stardust's deployable collector arrays were fitted with blocks of aerogel, a silicon foam that is 99.8% air. The aerogel slowed down and captured dust particles from the comet's tail, which were travelling six times faster than a bullet, and samples of interstellar dust.

Stardust flew through the tail of Comet Wild-2 in January 2004. During the encounter, it analysed and collected dust particles from the coma. On 15th January 2006, the sample return capsule parachuted back down to Earth. Scientists are now examining the precious comet samples.

Europlanet member countries involved in Stardust:

Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
  Aerogel Sample Collectors  
 CIDA  Cometary and Interstellar Dust Analyzer  Germany   Finland
 NavCam Navigation Camera  
 DFMI Dust Flux Monitor Instrument   UK
STEREO:

NASA's Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) consists of two almost identical spacecraft that will provide stereo images of the Sun in order to study coronal mass ejections.

Europlanet member countries involved in STEREO:


Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
SECCHI Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation  Belgium   France   Germany   UK 
SWAVES STEREO/WAVES  France   Austria   Czech Republic   Greece
IMPACT In-situ Measurements of Particles and CME Transients   France   Germany   Hungary   Netherlands
PLASTIC PLAsma and SupraThermal Ion Composition   Germany   Switzerland
Ulysses:

Ulysses is a joint mission by the European Space Agency and NASA to study the Sun. It the first-ever spacecraft to monitor the Sun's environment in space from the equator to the poles, and over a wide range of solar activity conditions.

Europlanet member countries involved in Ulysses:

Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
 VHM/FGM Magnetometer   UK   France
 SWOOPS Ulysses Solar Wind Plasma Investigation   France   Germany
 SWICS  Solar Wind Ion Composition Spectrometer   Switzerland 
 URAP The Ulysses Unified Radio & Plasma Wave Investigation  France
 EPAC  Ulysses Energetic Particle Investigation  Germany   Greece    Sweden   UK
 GAS Ulysses Interstellar Neutral Gas Experiment   Germany
 HISCALE Heliosphere Instrument for Spectra, Composition & Anisotropy at Low Energies  France   Greece   UK
 COSPIN Cosmic Ray and Solar Particle Investigation   France   Germany   Italy   Netherlands   UK
 GRB Ulysses Gamma Ray Burst Experiment   
DUST  Ulysses Cosmic Dust Experiment   Germany
 SCE  Ulysses Coronal Sounding Experiment    Germany
GWE  Gravitational Wave Experiment    Italy

 

Venus Express:

Venus Express is the first spacecraft to visit Venus in over 10 years.

The European Space Agency mission is carrying many of the same instruments as Rosetta and Mars Express. Venus Express will follow an eccentric orbit, so that it can take global measurements from a distance as well as detailed close-ups. Instruments carried by the spacecraft will study the Venusian atmosphere and find out what drives the planet's high-speed winds.

Europlanet member countries involved in Venus Express:

Instrument Function Europlanet member countries involved
ASPERA-4  Analyser of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms  Finland   Germany   UK
 PFS Planetary Fourier Spectrometer  France   Italy   Poland
 SPICAV Spectroscopy for Investigation of Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Venus  France
 VeRA Venus Radio Science  Belgium
 VEX-MAG Magnetometer  Austrian flag   UK  
 VIRTIS Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer  France   Italy   UK
 VMC Venus Monitoring Camera   Germany

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NB Please note that these pages are undergoing revision. The involvement of some countries in missions may be omitted at present.