A space probe is an artificial instrument that is sent to space in order to study the different bodies of the Solar System. Planets, satellites, asteroids or comets are the main objectives of space probes. They are not manned, and collect information that they send to scientists on Earth.
Space probes are also often called artificial satellites. They differ from the latter in that they do not normally orbit around the objects they study. Most of the time they have approach paths, although sometimes they are placed in orbit of a certain star. The probes are equipped with expensive photographic and filming systems, radars and sophisticated means of communication in contact with the Earth.
History of space probes
The history of the special probes began with the successive models sent to space by the United States and the Soviet Union. The first space probe was the Soviet Lunik 2, which reached the Moon in 1959. Three years later, Ranger 4 became the first American probe to reach the Moon. Since then, the succession of space probes has been continuous.
The first interplanetary probe was the Mariner 2, from the United States, which flew over Venus in 1962. For its part, the Russian probe Venera 7 landed on this steamy planet in 1970. Also Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Uranus and Neptune have been and objectives of space probes such as Marsnik, Mariner, Viking, Pioneer or Voyager.
Although for decades American and Russian probes have dominated space, other countries have already become part of space exploration. Japan, China, Australia or the European Space Agency (ESA) already have several projects underway. This is the case of the Rosetta space probe, launched by ESA in March 2004 to meet comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. The biggest milestone reached so far by a space probe is held by Voyager 1, which in September of 2013 left the Solar System.
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