Probes to the Sun
The sun is the most massive object in our solar system, accounting for 99.8% of the entire mass of the system. Still, we really don't understand it. The various probes are to study and learn more about our life giving star.
- Pioneer 5 (USA) 11 March 1959. Pioneer 5 was
designed to provide the first map of the interplanetary magnetic field. It functioned for
106 days. It is still in solar orbit.
- Pioneer 6 (USA) 16 December 1965. Measured solar
wind and the Sun's magnetic field. Still in solar orbit. Now dormant.
- Pioneer 7 (USA) 17 August 1966. Monitored solar
wind and cosmic rays. Still in solar orbit.
- Pioneer 8 (USA) 13 December 1967. Collected solar
radiation data. Still in solar orbit. Now dormant.
- Pioneer 9 (USA) 8 November 1968. Collected solar
radiation data. Still in solar orbit.
- Pioneer E (USA) 27 August 1969. Destroyed by range
safety due to first stage hydraulics failure.
- Explorer 49 (RAE 2, Radio Astronomy Explorer)
(USA) 10 June 1973. Solar physics mission in lunar orbit 15 June 1973.
- Helios 1 (Helios-A) (USA/Germany-FRG) 10
December 1974. Still in solar orbit. Came within 47 million km of the sun.
- Helios 2 (Helios-B) (USA/Germany-FRG) 16
January 1976. Came within 43 million km of the sun.
- SMM (Solar Maximum Mission) (USA) 14 February
1980. Stayed in Earth orbit, but studied solar flares. Re-entered 2 December 1989.
- Ulysses(International Solar Polar Mission, Solar Polar)
(ESA) 6 October 1990. Went by Jupiter (February 1992) so that it could swing around
and go into a polar solar orbit. First craft to pass over the poles of the sun (south pole
in mid-1994, north pole in mid-1995).
- Solar-A (Yohkoh) (Japan) 30 August 1991.
Japanese mission to study solar flares from Earth orbit.
- SOHO (Solar & Heliospheric Observatory)
(ESA/USA) 12 December 1995. European solar observatory in solar orbit.
- Genesis ( Genesis Solar Wind Sample Return) (USA)
8 August 2001. This robotic probe will park for 2½ years about a million miles
away to collect samples of the solar wind which were then returned to Earth in 2004.
Total material collected was equivalent to about 8 grains of salt.
- Spitzer Space Telescope (SST)
(USA) 25 August 2003. Formally called the Space Infrared Telescope Facility
(SIRTF) before being renamed on 18 December 2003.
- Stereo-A, Stereo-B (USA) 26 October 2006. These are identical
satellites which orbit the sun, Stereo-A(head) of the Earth and Stereo-B(ehind) the Earth.
They will create stereo images of the sun used to predict Coronal Mass Ejections
headed for the Earth.
- Parker Solar Probe (USA) 12 August 2018. Parker Solar Probe
will travel through the Sun's atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft
before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions - and ultimately providing
humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star. The orbit involves close flybys
- Solar Orbiter (ESA) 10 February 2020. Solar Orbiter
will fly inside the orbit of Mercury and in an elliptical orbit around the Sun gathering
data on the polar magnetic fields.
Page last modified: 10 February 2020 07:19:55.