Chronology of the missions to the outer solar system

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The paths of the first four probes through the outer solar system

This list shows in chronological order all space probes whose aim it was or is to reach one or more celestial bodies of the outer solar system . The space probes that did not reach their destination due to malfunctions or other reasons would also be named; However, this case has not yet occurred with space probes whose target was in the outer solar system. Space probes that have been planned but have not yet started are also taken into account.


Since 1972, nine missions have been launched into the outer solar system, all of which were designed and carried out by NASA , some with the participation of European space organizations, including five flyby probes , three planetary orbiters and one solar orbiter, all of which were successful. Compared to Venus, Moon and Mars, this means that fewer space probes have been sent to the outer planets, and so far all probes have performed a flyby of Jupiter . The Saturn was visited four times, in the meantime further probes are on both planets being planned. Uranus , Neptune and the dwarf planet Pluto, on the other hand, were only visited by one probe, namely Voyager 2 and New Horizons , respectively .

The flyby probes have all exceeded the escape speed of the solar system, so that they are drifting into interstellar space . Since the arrival of Pioneer 10 on Jupiter in 1973, space probes have also devoted themselves to the exploration of the four outer planets without interruption, although prior to Galileo's arrival on Jupiter in 1995, due to the design of earlier probes as flyby probes, scientific work was interrupted between two fly-bys. This phase is expected to end with Juno's entry into Jupiter's atmosphere in July 2021. The next probes into the outer planetary system will not reach their destination until the mid-2020s at the earliest.

Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Kuiper belt
Pioneer 10 1973, flyby        
Pioneer 11 1974, flyby 1979, flyby
Voyager 1 1979, flyby 1980, flyby
Voyager 2 1979, flyby 1981, flyby 1986, flyby 1989, flyby
Galileo 1995–2003, orbit
1995, atmospheric entry
Ulysses 1992, swing-by
Cassini-Huygens 2000, swing-by 2004–2017, orbit
2005, landing on Titan
New Horizons 2007, swing-by 2015, flyby of Pluto
2019, flyby of Arrokoth
Juno 2016–, orbit


All dates and times are given in UTC . At the end of the mission, if the end of the mission is in the past, only the final shutdown of the probe is mentioned; in the case of dates in the future, the current planning for the end of the mission, subject to further extensions if necessary.

Started missions

The following list contains all the missions that have already started. The degree of their success is marked in the following colors:

failure Partial success Successfully constantly
No. mission image Start date ( UTC ) Mission end (UTC) Organization / country Results
1. Pioneer 10 Pioneer 10 March 3, 1972
1:49 a.m.
January 23, 2003 National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA NASA ( USA ) Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to pass the planet Jupiter on December 3, 1973 . Above all, new knowledge about the structure of Jupiter's atmosphere and Jupiter's magnetic field was gained. The last time contact was made with the probe on January 23, 2003, the mission ended as subsequent contacts were unsuccessful.
2. Pioneer 11 Pioneer 11 April 6, 1973
2:11 a.m.
November 24, 1995 National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA NASA ( USA ) When it passed Jupiter on December 3, 1974, during which the first images of Jupiter's polar regions and detailed images of the Great Red Spot were taken, the probe was guided by a swing-by maneuver into a path to Saturn , which it was flying past reached on September 1, 1979. Tests were carried out for the Voyager probes and another ring of Saturn and other moons were discovered. On November 24, 1995, the last data was received from Pioneer 11.
3. Voyager 2 Voyager August 20, 1977
2:29:00 p.m.
no earlier than 2025 National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA NASA ( USA ) The probe, which is considered to be one of the greatest successes in space travel, passed Jupiter on July 9, 1979, taking further measurements based on the results of Voyager 1 ; Saturn was passed on August 25, 1981, with a particular study of the atmosphere. Then it passed Uranus on January 24, 1986 and finally Neptune on August 25, 1989. Here the Neptune rings and new moons were discovered and data about Triton were obtained. This was followed by a mission similar to Voyager 1 on the edge of the solar system and beyond, which continues to this day. It should end when the batteries no longer have enough energy to operate a single instrument. This will be the case around 2025.
4th Voyager 1 Voyager September 5, 1977
12:56 p.m.
no earlier than 2025 National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA NASA ( USA ) The probe, which is also considered to be one of the greatest successes in space travel, passed Jupiter on March 5, 1979; the rings of Jupiter were photographed for the first time and active volcanism was discovered on Io . On November 12, 1980, Saturn was also passed, with titanium in particular being examined. After her four-year primary mission until 1980, her task is to study the behavior of the solar wind at the edge of the solar system. In August 2012 she finally reached the heliopause and left our solar system. The mission is supposed to end when the energy in the batteries is no longer sufficient to operate a single instrument; this will be the case around 2025.
5. Galileo Galileo October 18, 1989
10:23 p.m.
September 21, 2003
6:57 pm
National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA NASA ( USA ), DLR ( Germany )
German Aerospace CenterDLR 
Galileo was the first spacecraft to enter orbit around Jupiter in 1995 . A daughter probe dived into the gas planet to collect atmospheric data. In the following years, despite a defect in the main antenna, extensive new knowledge was gained about the Jupiter system and especially the Galilean moons . The mission ended on September 21, 2003 when the probe burned up in Jupiter's atmosphere.
6th Ulysses Galileo October 6, 1990
11:47:16 AM
June 29, 2009
8:15 pm
European space agencyESA ESA , NASA ( USA )
National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA 
Ulysses was brought into a solar orbit with high inclination to the ecliptic during a swing-by on the gas planet Jupiter on February 8, 1992, and explored the poles of the sun from this. The mission ended on June 29, 2009 with the shutdown of the probe.
7th Cassini-Huygens Cassini and Huygens October 15, 1997
8:43 a.m.
September 15, 2017
10:32 am
National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA NASA ( USA ), ESA , ASI ( Italy )
European space agencyESA 
Asi logo.svg
Launched on October 15, 1997, Cassini-Huygens reached Jupiter after several swing-bys in the inner solar system at the end of 2000, where the probe took high-resolution images and increased its speed further. On June 30, 2004, it was the first space probe to enter Saturn orbit. Huygens landed on January 14, 2005 as the first probe on Saturn's largest moon Titan . Here she took pictures and took measurements of its atmosphere and surface properties. In the years that followed, extensive measurements were made in the Saturn system, with the focus on Saturn itself and its moons Titan and Enceladus . The probe entered the atmosphere of Saturn on September 15, 2017, as planned, where it burned up.
8th. New Horizons New Horizons January 19, 2006
7:00 p.m.
2021 National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA NASA ( USA ) After a Jupiter - swing-by on 28 February 2007 New Horizons passed on 14 July 2015, the Pluto system where the probe extensive measurements carried out, which they submitted to October 2016 earth. In the secondary mission that followed, she continued her journey to the Kuiper Belt , where she passed Arrokoth on January 1, 2019 . Then she continued her way out of the solar system. Further observations are planned until 2021.
9. Juno Juno August 5, 2011
4:25 p.m.
July 30, 2021 (planned) National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA NASA ( USA ) After an orbit correction outside Mars orbit in September 2012 and a swing-by on Earth in October 2013, Juno reached a polar orbit around the giant planet Jupiter on July 4, 2016. During the research phase , which was extended from 20 months to 4 years after engine problems, the orbiter is to examine in particular the atmosphere and magnetosphere of Jupiter in order to learn more about its formation and development.

Scheduled missions

The following list contains all mission plans that go beyond mere concepts and have concrete start plans.

mission image targeted start date Mission end Organization / country Results
Lucy Lucy November 2021 2033 (primary) National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA NASA ( USA ) As part of the Discovery program, Lucy is scheduled to launch in October 2021, pass the asteroid (52246) Donaldjohanson in the main belt in 2025 and then research the Trojans of Jupiter. In doing so, she is to collect four smaller L 4 Trojans, including (3548) Eurybates , in the years 2027 and 2028 and, in addition, in 2033 knowledge about the more massive L 5 double system from (617) Patroclus and Menoetius .
JUICE JUICE June 1, 2022 June 2033 (primary) European space agencyESA ESA After launching in June 2022, after several swing-bys in the inner solar system , the probe is expected to enter a Jupiter orbit on January 20, 2030. There, the probe is expected to make some close flybys of Callisto and Europe before entering an orbit around Ganymede in September 2032 , from which it is expected to examine the moon until at least June 2033. In addition to the three moons, the magnetosphere of Jupiter is also a research focus.
Europe clipper Europe clipper 2023-2025 still unknown National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA NASA ( USA ) The Jupiter - Orbiter to more than 40 close flybys of Europe run to determine if would be possible in the underground ocean Europe life and gain more accurate data about the moon. Because the probe does not enter an orbit around Europe, a longer mission time is possible due to the lower radiation exposure from Jupiter. The research work will focus on Europe's subterranean ocean and its interactions with the surface. There are concepts to carry a lander and / or several cubesats with the mission.
Dragonfly Dragonfly on its first landing on Titan April 2026 after 2036 National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA NASA ( USA ) Dragonfly is the fourth mission of NASA's New Frontiers program . It is a dual quadrocopter that is supposed to take advantage of the dense Titan atmosphere to intensively examine a large number of different landing sites on Saturn's moon Titan at a distance of hundreds of kilometers with the aid of shorter autonomous flights . Various scientific investigations are to be carried out both in the air and on the ground.

After launching in April 2026, Dragonfly is expected to reach Titan in December 2034 and then explore for at least 2.7 years.

Current concepts
Europe Lander Lander on Europa, Jupiter in the background 2025 2032 National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA NASA ( USA ) Looking for signs of past or present biological activity on Jupiter's moon Europa; Investigation of Europe in terms of the conditions for life
Exploring the heliopause 2024, 2025 and 2030 still unknown China National Space Administration CNSA ( China ) Exploration of the heliosphere using three probes that are to be sent in opposite directions on the plane of the ecliptic or perpendicular to it. On the way exploration of Uranus , Neptune , Triton , some centaurs and the dwarf planet Quaoar in the Kuiper belt .

Individual evidence

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This version was included in the selection of informative lists and portals on July 24, 2017 .