Jupiter was visited by a variety of probes.
addition, you may want to check out
AeroSpaceGuide. This site has some interesting
facts as well as mission summaries.
first probe to visit Jupiter was the
Pioneer 10. This probe was the first probe to
ever penetrate the
Asteroid Belt. This probe was
launched in May of 1972 and passed the orbit of
Pluto in June of 1983.
Pioneer 11, identical to
Pioneer 10, was launched in May of 1973. The
encounter of Jupiter was in December of 1974 and a
Saturn occurred in September of 1979.
Contact was lost in November of 1995.
The most infamous of all probes, the Voyager
series, was also designed to study the gas giants.
Voyager 2 (launched before Voyager 1) was
launched in August of 1977. The Jupiter flyby was in
July 1979, the
Saturn flyby was in August 1981, the
Uranus flyby was in January 1986, and the
Neptune flyby was in August 1989. The
Voyager 2 has left the Solar System but is still
Voyager 1 probe, launched in September of 1977,
would only visit Jupiter and
Voyager 2 probe was launched first after
discovering the orbital positions of all four gas
giants would allow the probes visit.
Voyager 1 was launched as planned.
remarkable Jupiter mission was the
Galileo probe. Launched in October of 1989, this
probe provided some of the best views of the moons
of Jupiter, and also inspired a flurry of protest.
The Galileo probe used planetary flyby's (including
Earth) to adjust trajectory and velocity. The power
plant within the probe uses radioisotope
thermoelectric generators or RTG's which is
nothing new. This type of power was also used in the
Pioneer and Voyager series as well. The protest came
in two forms:
- Concern over impact with
Earth during its
- Concern over burn-up in the Jupiter
There was actually several doomsday programs
here in the Bay Area voicing concerns over the
probes intentional impact with the Jovian
atmosphere. It was suggested that the RTG in
Galileo would be enough to initiate nuclear
fusion within the core of Jupiter. There are a
few reasons why this is not possible:
- The amount of material in Galileo's RTG
was depleted and not enough top produce an
- The core of Jupiter is rock, not
hydrogen like the heart of a
- While its been suggested Jupiter is a
star, the lowest mass of a body that
could initiate fusion is a body with 0.8
The probe was burned up, safely, on
September 21, 2003.
While not a Jupiter probe, the
Ulysses is in a very elongated orbit to
Sun. Its orbit passes Jupiter for
the purpose of gravity assist.
Also not a Jupiter probe, the
Cassini-Huygens probe past Jupiter on
its way to
Saturn. Some of the clearest
images of Jupiter were produced by the
There is only one mission planned for a
return to Jupiter. Still in the design
Prometheus One will study Jupiter in
depth and will also orbit three of its
moons: Callisto, Ganymede and
Continual study of the presence of water
will be performs. The mission is only
proposed and has not entered design stages
so call your Congressman! Launch is proposed