A space probe is a robot that carries scientific instruments. Probes fly past, orbit or land on a planet. Probes have explored planets and other bodies in our solar system since 1959.
The first space probes, the Soviet-made Luna probes, travelled to the Moon. In the
1960s, both the former Soviet Union and the United States sent probes to Venus. Although the atmospheric pressure and extreme heat caused many probes to fail, some did send information back to Earth. The Mariner 9 probe orbited Mars in 1971.
At the end of 1973, the Mariner 10 probe was launched. It flew past Venus on its way to
Mercury. It did three flybys of Mercury during 1974 and 1975. The probe's images showed us that Mercury's surface is covered in craters.
Two Viking probes travelled to Mars in the mid-1970s. Each probe was made up of an
orbiter and a lander. The orbiter released a lander craft that parachuted to the surface of
Mars. The landers analysed the Martian soil samples and transmitted the information back to Earth.
Probes have studied other objects in the solar system. The Giotto probe, launched in 1985, flew close to Halley's Comet in 1986. Before the probe was damaged by dust from the comet, it transmitted data about the dust, gas and ice within the comet.
Amazing Facts about Space :
Before people ventured into spoce, scientists sent animals, so they could observe how the animals coped with being in spoce. The dog, Laika, was the first mammal from Earth to orbit the planet. Laika died from stress and overheating during her 1957 space mission in the Russian spacecraft Sputnik 2.
As telescopes have become more powerful, they have allowed us to observe planets, galaxies and nebulae in greater detail. In 1990 the Hubble telescope was sent into orbit
Galileo discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in January 1610.
The Indian Astronomical Observatory which sits 4517 metres above sea level, in Hanle,
India, is the world's highest observatory telescope.
Amateur astronomers use refracting telescopes The earliest telescopes were all refracting
telescopes including the famous and very simple telescope used by Galileo Galilei in the early 1600s.
The Keck telescopes, the world's largest optical telescopes, are located on the dormant Mauna Kea volcano on the island of Hawaii.
Hubble is the size of a large school bus. It fits inside the cargo bay of a space shuttle.
The Hubble Space Telescope spotted young brown dwarfs for the first time in the Orion Nebula. Brown dwarfs are so-called failed stars because they are too small to be ordinary stars — they cannot sustain nuclear fusion in their cores the way our Sun does.
Hubble is serviced and newer technology is installed by astronouts on space walks. This
means that Hubble can benefit from the same advances as ground-based telescopes.
The Hubble Space Telescope completes one full orbit of Earth every 97 minutes.
A three-stage rocket, Saturn V, was used to take astronauts to the Moon in the Apollo
spacecraft. Stage 1 burnt its fuel over 2 minutes and 30 seconds - then separated from the rest of the rocket ond fell back to Earth. Stage 2 then fired and lifted the astronauts into space. It too fell away. Finally, Stage 3 fired for 2 minutes and 30 seconds and sent Apollo into orbit around Earth. Stage 3 fired again for over five minutes to send Apollo
towards the Moon. It then fell away from the spacecraft. All spacecraft and satellites are taken into space by rockets.
The largest and most powerful rocket ever built was the Saturn V rocket.
The Mariner probes were designed to investigate Mars, Venus and Mercury. In 1962, Mariner 2 became the first spacecraft to fly by another planet when it passed Venus.
The Viking landers conducted experiments on Martian soil to see if any form of life existed. Decades later, scientists are still arguing over the results.
The Halley Multicolor Camera on the Giotto probe was destroyed when it veered too close to the tail of Halley's Comet. Before it was shattered, it took some spectacular
pictures of the comet's nucleus.
In 1959, the Soviet Luna 2 mission successfully crashed into the Moon. It made history by being the first man-made object to reach another world.