Missions to the Planets

A brief summary of planetary encounters over the decades.

A graphical timeline of humanities exploration of the solar system, showing the dates that each planet (and dwarf planet) had a close encounter with a probe from Earth.

planetary flybys

Our first probe encounter with a planet was our own.  Sputnik was placed in orbit in 1957, followed a couple of years later by a successful probing of our Moon.  It has taken 58 years for us to send a probe to each individual planet (when this whole space exploration thing began, Pluto was still classed as a planet.

Originally we looked inward;  probes from the USSR were sent to Venus but failed along the way.  In 1962, the Mariner 2 probe managed to make it.

Mars quickly followed and soon after the Pioneer and Voyager probes were sent out on a tour of the outer planets;  Mariner 10 was also sent to neglected Mercury.

And now, New Horizons has completed its flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto (following asteroid and comet encounters).

Congratulations NASA!

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