List of missions to minor planets

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List of missions to minor planets is a listing of spaceflight missions to minor planets, which are category of astronomical body that excludes planets, moons and comets, but orbit the Sun. Most missions to minor planets have been to asteroids or dwarf planets.

Spacecraft visits to minor planets have mostly been flybys, and have ranged from dedicated missions to incidental flybys and targets of opportunity for spacecraft that have already completed their missions. The first spacecraft to visit an asteroid was Pioneer 10, which flew past an unnamed asteroid on 2 August 1972; a distant incidental encounter while the probe was en route to Jupiter. The first dedicated mission was NEAR Shoemaker , which was launched in February 1996, and entered orbit around 433 Eros in February 2000, having first flown past 253 Mathilde. NEAR was also the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid, surviving what was intended to be an impact with Eros at 20:01 on 12 February 2001 at the planned end of its mission. As a result of its unexpected survival, the spacecraft's mission was extended until 1 March to allow data to be collected from the surface.

Many minor planets are in two rings:

SpacecraftLaunch date [1] Targeted minor planetMissionOutcomeRemarksCarrier rocket [2]
Pioneer 10 2 March 1972Unnamed asteroid [3] FlybyN/ADistant incidental flyby en route to Jupiter; flyby occurred on 2 August 1972 with closest approach of 8.85 million kilometers (5.5 million miles). Atlas SLV-3C Centaur-D Star-37E
307 Nike N/ADistant incidental flyby en route to Jupiter; flyby occurred on 2 December 1972 with closest approach of 8.8 million kilometers (5.4 million miles). Atlas SLV-3C Centaur-D Star-37E
Galileo 18 October 1989SuccessfulIncidental flyby en route to Jupiter; flyby occurred on 29 October 1991 with closest approach of 1,604 kilometres (997 mi) at 22:37 UTC [4] Space Shuttle Atlantis
STS-34 / IUS
SuccessfulIncidental flyby en route to Jupiter, discovered Dactyl; flyby occurred on 28 August 1993 with closest approach of 2,410 kilometres (1,500 mi) at 16:51:59 UTC [4]
25 January 1994FlybySpacecraft failureAttitude control failure; failed to leave geocentric orbit after first phase of mission exploring the Moon. Flyby had been planned for August 1994 [5] Titan II(23)G
NEAR Shoemaker
(Discovery 1)
17 February 1996SuccessfulClosest approach 1,212 kilometres (753 mi) at 12:56 UTC on 27 June 1997 [6] Delta II 7925
OrbiterMostly successfulAborted burn three days before arrival at Eros resulted in failure to enter orbit, instead flew past at 3,827 kilometres (2,378 mi) at 18:41:23 on 23 December 1998. Insertion reattempted successfully on 14 February 2000. Impacted asteroid at 20:01 on 12 February 2001 at end of mission, but survived impact and continued to operate on surface until 1 March. [6]
Cassini–Huygens 15 October 1997 [1] FlybyN/ADistant incidental flyby en route to Saturn; closest approach 1.5 million kilometres (0.9 million miles) at 09:58 UTC on 23 January 2000 [7] Titan IV(401)B Centaur-T [8]
Deep Space 1 24 October 1998 4015 Wilson–Harrington [9] FlybySpacecraft failureSpacecraft was unable to reach the asteroid due to ion engine operation being suspended while a problem with the probe's star tracker was investigated [10] Delta II 7326
Partial failureClosest approach 28.3 kilometres (17.6 mi) at 04:46 UTC [10] on 29 July 1999. Intended to pass within 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) but this was not achieved due to a computer failure; poor-quality images returned as a result. [11] Flyby added to mission following loss of ability to reach Wilson–Harrington
(Discovery 4)
7 February 1999SuccessfulClosest approach of 3,079 kilometres (1,913 mi) at 04:50:20 UTC on 2 November 2002 Delta II 7426
9 May 2003Orbiter/lander
Sample return
Partial failureReached Itokawa on 12 September 2005, landed briefly on 19 and 25 November but sampler failed to operate, missed return window due to communications outage, finally returned to Earth on 13 June 2010 M-V
MINERVA LanderFailureDeployed from Hayabusa on 12 November 2005; Accidentally released while Hayabusa was moving away from Itokawa; reached escape velocity and drifted off into heliocentric orbit
Rosetta 2 March 2004FlybySuccessfulClosest approach 800 kilometres (500 mi) on 5 September 2008 Ariane 5G+
SuccessfulClosest approach 3,162 kilometres (1,965 mi) on 10 July 2010
67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko LanderSuccessfulRendezvous 6 August 2014, orbit on 10 September 2014

Philae(lander) landed on 12 November 2014, Rosetta itself landed on 30 September 2016

Deep Impact
(Discovery 7)
12 January 2005 (163249) 2002 GT FlybySpacecraft failure
(Extended mission)
Extended mission (EPOXI), flyby was expected in 2020, but communication with the spacecraft was lost in August 2013 Delta II 7925
New Horizons
(New Frontiers 1)
19 January 2006FlybyN/AIncidental flyby en route to Pluto, closest approach 101,867 kilometres (63,297 mi) at 04:05 UTC on 13 June 2006 Atlas V 551
FlybySuccessfulFlyby occurred on 14 July 2015
486958 Arrokoth SuccessfulFlyby occurred on 1 January 2019
(Discovery 9)
27 September 2007OrbiterSuccessfulOrbited Vesta from 16 July 2011 to 5 September 2012, before departing for Ceres Delta II 7925H
SuccessfulArrived in 2015
Chang'e-2 1 October 2010FlybySuccessfulFlyby on 13 December 2012, closest approach 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) Long March 3C
Hayabusa2 3 December 2014Orbiter/lander
Sample return
SuccessfulArrived in 2018, landed in February and July 2019

Sample returned to Earth on 5 December 2020 UTC

H-IIA 202
HIBOU LanderSuccessfulDeployed from Hayabusa2 on 21 September 2018
OWL SuccessfulDeployed from Hayabusa2 on 21 September 2018
MINERVA II-2 Spacecraft failureDeployed from Hayabusa2 on 2 October 2019; lander failed prior to deployment, but was deployed anyway to observe the effects of gravity on it as it descended to the surface.
MASCOT SuccessfulDeployed from Hayabusa2 on 3 October 2018; operated for 17 hours
SCI impactor ImpactorSuccessfulDeployed from Hayabusa2 on 5 April 2019
DCAM-3 OrbiterSuccessfulDeployed from Hayabusa2 on 5 April 2019; observed SCI impact
PROCYON (185851) 2000 DP107 FlybySpacecraft failureFlyby had been planned for 2016; cancelled due to ion engine failure in heliocentric orbit [13]
(New Frontiers 3)
8 September 2016 101955 Bennu Orbiter
Sample return
OperationalOrbiting 101955 Bennu since 31 December 2018 Atlas V 411
(Discovery 13)
16 October 2021 52246 Donaldjohanson Flybyenroute20 April 2025 Atlas V 401
3548 Eurybates enroute12 August 2027
15094 Polymele enroute15 September 2027
11351 Leucus enroute18 April 2028
21900 Orus enroute11 November 2028
617 Patroclus enroute2 March 2033
DART / LICIACube 23 November 2021 65803 Didymos ImpactorenrouteImpact set to happen in late September 2022Falcon 9
(Discovery 14)
2023 [14] 16 Psyche OrbiterPlanned2029 [15] Falcon Heavy
Hera October 2024 65803 Didymos OrbiterPlannedDecember 2026 [16] Ariane 6
DESTINY+ 2024 3200 Phaethon FlybyPlanned2028 [17] Epsilon
ZhengHe 2025 469219 Kamoʻoalewa Orbiter/lander
Sample return
Planned2026 [18] [19] Long March 3B

See also

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