The Top 20 Robotic Spacecraft in History

The poll is complete and the most popular robotic spacecraft in history have been selected. Thanks to the efforts by The Planetary Society. The top three missions selected here now represent the themes of our series of screen-printed posters celebrating the history of robotic space exploration. To support this effort please see our campaign page at Kickstarter.

The Voyager Program As we expected the Voyager Program came into the top spot with 507 votes (18.5%). The poster for this design is already complete and available for viewing on the campaign page.

Cassini / Huygens Cassini takes poster #2 with 432 votes (15.7%), effectively eclipsing it’s sister probe Galileo. This design is expected to be completed on or before October 23rd.

Mars Science Lab (aka Curiosity) The newest member of the robotic Martian community of surface rovers, Curiosity arrived in 2012 and has stolen the thunder of the previous Mars Exploration Rovers with 340 votes (12.4%). This design is expected to be completed on or before October 31st.

As for the rest of the list, here is how things all panned out:

  1. The Mars Exploration Rovers 189 (6.9%)
  2. Sputnik (Earth) 169 (6.2%)
  3. The Viking Program (Mars) 146 (5.3%)
  4. New Horizons (Pluto) 136 (5.0%)
  5. Rosetta (comet) 123 (4.5%)
  6. Galileo (Jupiter) 121 (4.4%)
  7. Venera (Venus) 67 (2.4%)
  8. Pioneers 10 & 11 (Jupiter & Saturn) 66 (2.4%)
  9. The Mariner Program (Mercury, Venus & Mars) 47 (1.7%)
  10. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter 40 (1.5%)
  11. Hayabusa (asteroid) 39 (1.4%)
  12. Mars Express39 (1.4%)
  13. Deep Impact / Epoxi (comet) 36 (1.3%)
  14. Stardust (comet) 26 (0.9%)
  15. Messenger (Mercury) 25 (0.9%)
  16. Maven (Mars) 22 (0.8%)
  17. Dawn (Vesta & Ceres) 22 (0.8%)

Should we reach our stretch goals, this would also make poster #4’s theme the Opportunity & Spirit rovers and poster #5’s surprising but historically honorable theme going to Sputnik.

Historic Robotic Spacecraft Poster Survey

Our new Kickstarter project proposes the creation of three screen-printed posters celebrating the most popular and notable interplanetary robotic space missions in history. Going into this, we knew that poster #1  had to go to the hugely popular Voyager missions (shown above). However, we need your help selecting the themes of posters #2 and #3. So head over to The Planetary Society now to vote on your three favorite missions, but do it by the 19th to have it count for the poster selection. If this goes better than expected we could even wind up designing a fourth or fifth.

MOM is at Mars

You know how your Mother will always take the most predictable pictures at the holidays? Well, the Mars Orbiter Mission has done exactly that with it’s recent global image of Mars and it turns out to actually be quite a rare image. Despite so many probes being active at Mars at once, most are too close to the planet to be able to capture a full disc image like this.

It is also the first interplanetary space mission for the Indian Space Research Organization and is really just a technology demonstrator for the group. This makes India only the fourth space agency to reach Mars and quite an accomplishment to do so successfully on it’s first try. To provide context for that statement, here is a list of missions to Mars and all the ones listed in bold (most spectacularly) failed to reach their goals. So Wanderingspace is happy to welcome another active player to the field of planetary exploration.

Kickstarter Project Coming Oct 2

Our new Kickstarter campaign will be live in a few days. Above are a few of the celestial assets illustrated for the animation/video we are producing for the campaign page.

When It’s a Jet, It’s a Jet All the Way

Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (aka CG-67P) is showing the early formation of it’s jets. Those jets are what cause the formation of the most distinguishing characteristic of any comet — it’s tail. The Rosetta spacecraft is currently in orbit about the comet and it is assumed that as the pair orbit closer to the sun, these jets will become much more active and should provide quite a show for us. The Rosetta team has also recently shared the potential landing sites for it’s Philae Lander in November shown here.

This image was brought to the world by Emily Lackdawalla’s Planetary Blog.

Rosetta Nearing Target 67P (That’s a Comet)

This mission is just not getting enough public attention. Launched in 2004, the mission has already flown by Mars and two minor asteroids 2867 Šteins in 2008, and of 21 Lutetia in 2010. However, the real target of the mission is coming this week… a comet with the unforgivable name 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Rosetta will go into orbit around the comet and observe it for the coming months as it nears the Sun which will cause it to start acting more like a comet and forming the familiar tail. As if that were not enough, a small lander named Philae will attempt to land and attach itself to the comet in November.

Enceladus has 101 Geysers

Apparently there are a whole lot of geysers on Enceladus, more than 100. Well only one more, but there are sure to be others. Most of the geysers spotted so far appear along the four noticeably visible “tiger stripes” that appear in the southern hemisphere.

These are two of the most recent images to come from Cassini on this hot region of this medium sized moon. Nice seeing the detail on the geysers in the dark regions of the images where you can actually see where they are originating from on the surface.

Cosmos Time

I don’t usually post tee designs not by Chop Shop, but as a massive fan both of Cosmos and Adventure Time — I couldn’t justify not tipping this off. For anyone not aware of the world around them, a new series called “Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey” is due to be released in Spring 2014. This time playing Jake the Dog to Carl Sagan’s Finn the Human will be Neil DeGrasse Tyson as illustrated in the design above.

What Good is Space Exploration?

Answer: Could change/save the world as we know it. Short-sighted discreditors of space exploration often question what good it is to have a man on the moon. What good can come of sending probes to Mars for so many millions of dollars? Leaving aside mankind’s natural impulse to learn and understand everything around us (not to mention how well it has served us), practical reasons for exploring something as barren as our moon do run thin to the average citizen. While I do so value the science that happens at such remote locations, it is the getting there that challenges us to push the boundaries of known science. Coming up with a better and safer means of space travel can wind up producing something like this; a potentially abundant green source of energy that could transform the world and be the answer to many of the problems facing the us today.

What is often hard to explain to people who negate the need for space exploration are the side benefits of such programs for the whole world. Just like wars, performing something as technically challenging as space exploration results in pushing the boundaries of science in directions it might not have otherwise gone. When Sputnik was launched, most believed that space would go the way of a militarized zone and become a new battleground for superiority. Instead, all these years later we enjoy a vast communication network that has helped topple entire governments without a single bullet being fired. If it is a choice, I would choose space exploration over another world war to press mankind further along the path of progress any day.

So to those who think the best that going to the moon has produced is velcro — consider the possibility that by NASA may be on the way to providing the world with abundant clean energy as the result of trying to find a cheaper safer way to the stars. Not a bad fringe benefit.

The Martian Hammer

Occasionally they find things on Mars that I don’t bother posting because they are obviously bits of plastic that fell from descent, or are just shadow tricks. But this one has me and others scratching our collective heads. It really seems to be “growing” from the rock below and is clearly a shiny metallic material. Possibly a dropped Martian hammer?

Read more at The Atlantic.

Messenger, I Owe You Some Attention

To the casual observer Mercury is a body double of our own moon, but they are very different on the inside. In images, however, it offers very little that is unfamiliar from what we can see with our own eyes when we look up. Included in this post are 4 full color images of Mercury with the above being taken in February, 2012.

The above and image also from February, 2012.

Above image captured by Messenger in April, 2012.

Above taken November, 2009.

We are Back

I was locked out of my own Word Press blog. But we are back in. I wonder what I missed to post about?

Juno is on the Way to Jupiter

Juno is the first mission to study Jupiter since Galileo in the 90s and will arrive around July of 2016. The new imaging event on this encounter will be seeing the poles of Jupiter for the first time in great detail. The camera fitted to Juno are specifically for public consumption and promotion and less about science. It will be nice to have an instrument specifically dedicated to securing amazing images.